Fox River and Chain O' Lakes still rising
Engorged by steady rains this week, the Des Plaines River crested early Friday in Lake County, allowing residents and officials to survey flood damage.
Across the county, however, people living and working along the Fox River and the Chain O' Lakes continued preparing for what could be the worst flooding there since 1960.
Fox Lake's water levels could reach 8 feet in upcoming days, 3 feet over flood stage, water resources engineer Rita Lee of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said in a notice to emergency managers in Lake County.
The lake was at 6.7 feet as of midday Friday and still rising.
To put that into historical perspective, when the lake level reached 7.2 feet in 2007, 400 homes were damaged.
"If the figures are correct, there will be significantly more homes flooded than there are now," Lee told the Daily Herald.
The situation is worse along the Chain O' Lakes and the Fox River than along the Des Plaines River because the Fox is still rising up north in New Munster, Wis.
That water will work its way down to the already full Chain through the weekend, before cresting at some point Tuesday, officials have predicted.
The worst may be over for communities along the Des Plaines River in Lake County.
The river crested at more than 16 feet, and floodwaters are receding. Plenty of damage has been done, however.
The Marriott Lincolnshire Resort remained closed Friday following a blackout and significant flooding from the nearby river.
At one point, the water on Marriott Drive — the main road in and out of the resort — had risen as high as a stop sign, said Tom Krueger, deputy chief of the Lincolnshire-Riverwoods Fire Protection District.
The complex should reopen Sunday, according to a statement emailed to the media.
Peformances Thursday and Friday at the Marriott Theatre were canceled, as was a staging of "Alice in Wonderland" scheduled for Saturday morning.
The fates of "South Pacific" performances planned for Saturday afternoon and evening haven't been deciced.
Sections of three streets in the village — Lincolnshire Drive, Londonderry Lane and Oxford Drive — still were closed to traffic Friday, a day after 45 homes were evacuated.
Public works crews in boats looked for damage to houses on Lincolnshire Drive and to the nearby berm that usually protects them from the river, Mayor Brett Blomberg said.
And with more rain possible next week, officials kept sandbagging operations running.
Lincolnshire's Spring Lake Beach was submerged by the flood Friday. Janis Swanson, who lives nearby, was amazed at the amount of water covering the area.
"The beach is completely gone," she said. "In 25 years, I've never seen the river this high."
Classes at Lincolnshire's Stevenson High School, which is well west of the river off Half Day Road, were not affected by the rain and flooding, spokesman Jim Conrey said. But several athletic events were postponed or canceled Thursday and Friday.
Some local roads and major thoroughfares in Gurnee continued to be affected by flooding from the river.
Stretches of Route 41, Grand Avenue, O'Plaine Road and Old Grand Avenue were closed.
Additionally, firefighters and equipment were transferred from Gurnee's Station No. 1 on Old Grand to police headquarters and a second fire station as a precaution.
Gurnee officials announced Friday afternoon that while floodwater has surrounded Gurnee Community Church, the building remains dry. The church is at O'Plaine Road and Old Grand Avenue. Floodwater from the nearby Des Plaines River has been creeping east along Old Grand toward O'Plaine.
Since a 2002 expansion, the church has had what essentially is a large underground vault that can handle 600,000 gallons of floodwater. As part of the design, the underground space has several large openings that allow floodwater to flow through unobstructed.
The river runs through Libertyville, too, but that town appears to have avoided major problems.
Volunteers, including Libertyville High School students, Boy Scouts and naval recruits, packed about 1,500 sandbags at the village public works facility and other locations. Piles of sand also were delivered to neighborhoods on Sandstone Drive, Riverside Drive and Country Club Drive.
Libertyville Township officials and volunteers used 3,000 to 4,000 sandbags to protect about 50 homes on Sprucewood and Birchwood Lanes in the Countryside Manor subdivision, and on Hawthorne Lane and Oak Spring Lane, highway commissioner Bill Morgan said.
"The water is close but nobody has water in their house," Morgan said Friday. Roads that had been closed Thursday had drained and were open, he added.
Classes at Libertyville High School were canceled for a second day Friday because of a flood in a subbasement, but officials said they will resume Monday.
Crews succeeded in pumping all the water out of the building, District 128 spokeswoman Mary Todoric said.
Because of the standing water in the school's north parking lot, students will not be allowed to park on campus until further notice. Carpooling by parents is encouraged.
Additionally, the school's pool will be closed until 7:30 a.m. on Monday so bathrooms and locker areas affected by the rainstorm can be cleaned.
Daily Herald staff writers Lee Filas, Bob Susnjara and Mick Zawislak contributed to this report.
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