Fox River communities back in 'emergency' mode after rains

  • Tom McCleary, right, and Ray Robarge put another layer of sandbags on their way after Wednesday night's rain raised the water level to a new high point for the week on La Fox River Drive Thursday.

    Tom McCleary, right, and Ray Robarge put another layer of sandbags on their way after Wednesday night's rain raised the water level to a new high point for the week on La Fox River Drive Thursday. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Scott Thoman, left, and Jeff Peterson help sandbag a friend's house on La Fox River Drive in Algonquin Thursday.

    Scott Thoman, left, and Jeff Peterson help sandbag a friend's house on La Fox River Drive in Algonquin Thursday. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Beads of sweat pour off Ray Robarge of Algonquin as he places sandbags in front of the house he rents on La Fox River Drive.

    Beads of sweat pour off Ray Robarge of Algonquin as he places sandbags in front of the house he rents on La Fox River Drive. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Sandbags wait to be deployed on La Fox River Drive in Algonquin Thursday. The Fox River were rising throughout the afternoon after about 1.4 inches of rain fell overnight.

    Sandbags wait to be deployed on La Fox River Drive in Algonquin Thursday. The Fox River were rising throughout the afternoon after about 1.4 inches of rain fell overnight. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Pumps work to empty the backyard of the Prokop house on La Fox River Drive in Algonquin after the rising river breached both of their sandbag retaining walls.

    Pumps work to empty the backyard of the Prokop house on La Fox River Drive in Algonquin after the rising river breached both of their sandbag retaining walls. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • After nearly an inch and a half of rain fell overnight and into Thursday morning in Algonquin, the Fox River could rise to 13 feet.

    After nearly an inch and a half of rain fell overnight and into Thursday morning in Algonquin, the Fox River could rise to 13 feet. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • A park bench can barely be seen above the waterline near what is the normal bank of Fox River in Algonquin.

    A park bench can barely be seen above the waterline near what is the normal bank of Fox River in Algonquin. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • A dump truck drops off another load of sandbags Thursday on La Fox River Drive in Algonquin.

    A dump truck drops off another load of sandbags Thursday on La Fox River Drive in Algonquin. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Becky Fuery of Algonquin loads her vehicle with sandbags in front of her house on Oceola Drive. Fuery says lifting each sandbag is about like lifting one of her toddlers.

    Becky Fuery of Algonquin loads her vehicle with sandbags in front of her house on Oceola Drive. Fuery says lifting each sandbag is about like lifting one of her toddlers. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Puddles of water have overflowed onto streets throughout Algonquin, including Winaki Trail, after about 1.4 inches of rain fell Wednesday night into Thursday.

    Puddles of water have overflowed onto streets throughout Algonquin, including Winaki Trail, after about 1.4 inches of rain fell Wednesday night into Thursday. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • A house along Winaki Trail in Algonquin is surrounded by floodwater Thursday.

    A house along Winaki Trail in Algonquin is surrounded by floodwater Thursday. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Julie Lewkowicz helps fill sandbags Thursday along Winaki Trail in Algonquin. Lewkowicz who works for the United States Postal Service, delivers mail to these houses and says she felt she needed to come and help.

    Julie Lewkowicz helps fill sandbags Thursday along Winaki Trail in Algonquin. Lewkowicz who works for the United States Postal Service, delivers mail to these houses and says she felt she needed to come and help. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Matthew Leahy strains to lift another sandbag Thursday as he helps to shore up his neighbor's house on Water Street in East Dundee.

    Matthew Leahy strains to lift another sandbag Thursday as he helps to shore up his neighbor's house on Water Street in East Dundee. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Soaked and covered in sand, Lars Overland talks with family and friends Thursday as they help sandbag his house on Water Street in East Dundee.

    Soaked and covered in sand, Lars Overland talks with family and friends Thursday as they help sandbag his house on Water Street in East Dundee. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Lars Overland lifts a sandbag Thursday as floodwaters fill his basement on Water Street in East Dundee. Several friends and neighbors spent hours helping to shore up the house.

    Lars Overland lifts a sandbag Thursday as floodwaters fill his basement on Water Street in East Dundee. Several friends and neighbors spent hours helping to shore up the house. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Two women walk down the flooded Lincoln Avenue in West Dundee on Thursday.

    Two women walk down the flooded Lincoln Avenue in West Dundee on Thursday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 7/21/2017 8:37 AM

The worst appeared to be over earlier this week for Algonquin residents, who had spent days building sandbag walls and bracing for high floodwaters.

The river was slowly starting to recede after cresting Tuesday at 12.4 feet -- about a foot lower than initial projections -- and Village President John Schmitt said the town was in "pretty good shape."

 

But Fox River communities hit a setback when a wave of storms and heavy rainfall swept through the suburbs late Wednesday and into the next morning, causing water levels to rise and reach record flood stages in a matter of hours.

"We're going back into emergency operations mode," said Mike Kumbera, Algonquin's assistant village manager.

Storms also hit parts of the swollen Des Plaines River and Chain O' Lakes, but more flooding is not expected in those areas.

Northern Illinois received 1 to 2.25 inches of rain over the Fox River watershed, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. About 1.4 inches of rain fell overnight in Algonquin, the effects of which worsened throughout the day, Schmitt said.

The Fox River in Algonquin was at 12.8 feet by Thursday afternoon and is expected to climb to about 13 feet overnight, according to the National Weather Service. Flood stage at that point in the river is 9.5 feet.

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"The river was receding, and it already saturated the soil, so there's really nowhere for the water to go," Kumbera said. "We do anticipate an additional need for sandbagging near the river."

Though village officials don't see an immediate need for evacuation, residents are encouraged to monitor conditions and decide whether to relocate based on their individual circumstances, he said. Towne, Riverfront and Cornish parks are all closed, and several local roads along the river have been shut down.

Downstream in East Dundee, Lars Overland was caught by surprise when his yard started taking on water after the overnight storms. In the three years he's lived in his house on Water Street -- including the past week -- he's never had any flooding issues.

When his wife called midmorning Thursday and told him things looked bleak, Overland contacted neighbors and friends to help sandbag around his property.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"A lot of my neighbors have seen it before, but it was new to me," said Overland, whose basement took on about 2 feet of water. "You're thinking you're in the clear because it hasn't rained in the past week. I was in shock."

Many other riverfront houses and properties throughout East and West Dundee are in worse shape than earlier this week, officials said. West Dundee's riverwalk is entirely underwater, and some businesses on First Street have begun taking on water through their foundations, Public Works Director Eric Babcock said.

"We've deployed sandbags and are building walls," he said. "It's definitely more critical now."

Looking forward

Water levels on the swollen Des Plaines River are expected to rise in Gurnee, where overnight storms brought just under an inch of rain, said Jack Linehan, assistant to the village manager. It will not cause more flooding in the area.

Even the areas of Des Plaines hard-hit by flooding, such as Big Bend Drive, didn't worsen by the latest round of storms, city spokeswoman Linda DeTomasi said, though several road closures throughout the city do remain in effect.

The Chain O' Lakes rose slightly from Wednesday night's rainfall but stayed below previous crest levels, according to the Fox Waterway Agency.

Now, communities along the Fox River watershed are bracing for another round of storms this weekend, as a forecast for Friday into Saturday shows another 1 to 2 inches of rain could hit the area, according to the IDNR.

A humid air mass is in place that has the potential to produce heavy rainfall totals and makes the main location for the storms uncertain.

Algonquin is now seeking more volunteers this weekend to fill sandbags, which will be delivered to affected residents throughout the village, Kumbera said. Other Fox Valley and McHenry County communities also offer sandbags and additional disaster relief efforts.

"We're working into the night to get sandbags going, and we've been delivering palates by truckloads," Kumbera said. "The weather changes and those flood levels can change pretty quickly. At this point, all we can do is keep watching the forecast."

• Daily Herald staff writers Lee Filas, Doug Graham and Bob Susnjara contributed to this report.

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