Rivers crest in Lake County; now for the cleanup
You didn't have to look hard Monday to find flooding in the Fox Lake area.
It closed Grand Avenue near Rollins Road after a nearby channel overflowed it's banks and pooled in the parking lot of Fox Lake Town Center.
There was standing water on Washington Street near Fox Lake Fire Station 2. People used rowboats to access Knollwood Park and Kings Island subdivisions.
A carp was swimming down Lakeside Lane, and a wall of gravel, pallets, plastic and sandbags held back 3 feet of lake water at Munson Marine on Route 59.
"It's an awful mess," Ed Sikora said of his Fox Lake home, where the utility room is under a couple of feet of water. "I've never seen this, ever. Pretty bad."
Annette Wolf, the village's director of emergency management, said this is the worst flood the area has seen since 1960.
"Right now, we are just trying to keep an eye on damages and get that information to the county," she said.
Wolf estimated more than 600 homes were reported damaged as of Sunday. Because floodwaters remain high, it's nearly impossible to get an accurate count at this point, she said.
But the worst of nearly a week of flooding may be nearing an end in Lake County.
The Chain O' Lakes crested Monday at nearly 3 feet over flood stage before leveling off.
The Des Plaines River crested last weekend and has slowly started to recede, according to the National Weather Service.
That means cleanup and repairs in thousands of area homes and businesses will soon begin.
Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor said officials estimate 4,000 to 4,500 properties suffered flood damage.
A countywide damage estimate was not immediately available. One must be provided to state emergency management officials by Wednesday, he said.
The Lake County Emergency Management Agency is working with villages and townships to compile damage information to potentially bring in federal and state funding, Wolf said.
Residents with flood damage should contact their village or township or the county at (847) 377-2081. Fox Lake residents can go online at www.foxlake.org for a damage assessment report. Lake County is working with waste haulers for disposal of flood debris, such as used sandbags and flood-soaked personal property.
Officials estimate more than 430,000 sandbags were filled and stacked to protect homes and businesses in Lake County.
Officials in hard-hit Gurnee and Lincolnshire are watching and waiting as conditions slowly improve along the Des Plaines River.
One of the more high-profile sites damaged by flooding, Libertyville High School, reopened to students Monday morning. A subbasement that had filled with water Thursday morning had been drained and the school was deemed safe for use, District 128 spokeswoman Mary Todoric said.
School supplies and equipment were submerged by several feet of water. The cause of the flood hasn't been determined, and a damage estimate was pending, Todoric said.
Despite flooding that closed several streets and prompted the evacuation of dozens of homes in Lincolnshire, only one homeowner has reported water in a basement, Mayor Brett Blomberg said.
"What we don't know is when people get back to their homes, are they going to find something (water damage)," Blomberg said.
The Marriott Lincolnshire Resort suffered flood damage and was evacuated late last week but has reopened, he said.
In Gurnee, officials urged residents and businesses to keep sandbags and other protection in place until the river returns to its banks.
Gurnee's flood zone is principally around Kilbourne Road, Emerald Avenue and Old Grand Avenue east of the river.
Village management analyst Erik Jensen said it's too soon to calculate the flood cost to village government. He said most employees' work has been done during regular time, but public works crews stayed on the job late over two nights last week.
Damage estimates have yet to be formed for private property owners.
Cleanup operations will begin once the river recedes enough to eliminate the possibility of more damage. Jensen said the village plans to make available flood cleanup kits.
• Daily Herald staff writers Russell Lissau and Bob Susnjara contributed to this report.
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