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updated: 5/10/2013 7:02 PM

Chain O' Lakes reopens to boating

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  • Pistakee Lake flooding in Fox Lake leaves many homes surrounded and damaged by floodwaters.

    Pistakee Lake flooding in Fox Lake leaves many homes surrounded and damaged by floodwaters.
    Courtesy of Illinois Wing Civil Air Patrol


The Chain O' Lakes has reopened for boating after being closed for 19 days due to flooding, state officials said.

With water levels on the Chain dipping below flood stage, the Fox Waterway Agency and Illinois Department of Natural Resources lifted boating restrictions Thursday afternoon.

However, no-wake status remains in effect on the Fox River between the Stratton Lock and Dam in McHenry south through the Algonquin Dam in Algonquin, officials said.

No wake means boats are not allowed to travel at speeds above 5 mph, slow enough so the boat does not create a wake behind it.

Technically, the Chain was closed from 3 p.m. on April 17 until it went no-wake about 3 p.m. on May 6. The no-wake restriction remained in place until 2 p.m. Thursday, when the Chain reopened, officials said.

During the worst of the recent flooding, water levels on the Chain topped out at 7.9 feet, 2.5 feet over flood stage. It was the worst flooding in Fox Lake since 1960, when water levels reached 8 feet, officials said.

Fox Lake officials said more than 600 homes were damaged by flooding, and more than 30,000 sandbags were used to hold back the rising water.

Residents are urged to record any flood damage and repairs for federal and state authorities.

Teams of investigators from federal and state emergency management, the U.S. Small Business Administration and local officials recently visited flood-damaged areas in Lake County to assess damage.

Kent McKenzie, Lake County's emergency management coordinator, said Gov. Pat Quinn asked that Lake County be named a federal disaster area, which could lead to federal financial assistance.

However, McKenzie said, it's unclear when the Federal Emergency Management Agency would make a final decision on whether federal funds would be made available to assist in the cleanup efforts.

"We are confident that we provided enough information to justify the need for federal disaster assistance," he said. "But you just never know with these things."

In the interim, he said, people are slowly starting to put their lives back together after the flood.

"There is still a lot of cleanup going on, but things are starting to slowly come back," he said.

People living in unincorporated Lake County affected by flooding have been asked to move used sandbags to the side of the road for pickup starting Monday, May 13.

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