Fox River crests, but flood fears continue in Algonquin

and Liz Nagy, Laura Podesta and Cate Cauguiran
Monday, July 17, 2017 11:02PM
Even though river levels are receding for some flood victims Monday, the disaster grows for others.


ALGONQUIN, Ill. - Even though river levels are receding for some flood victims Monday, other waters continue to rise.

The latest threat is to residents in the Algonquin area, where the Fox River crested at 12 and a half feet Tuesday, flooding even more homes. It is expected to stay at 12 and a half feet through Wednesday and is not expected to drop below flood stage through the weekend.

"It's been kind of stressful with all the water coming back now that it's getting toward its peak here," said Phil Barnes, Algonquin resident.

Homeowners spent days prepping for rising water levels.

"We put these on top to kind of hold any hoses that we have here to keep the plastic down," Barnes said, describing his sandbag-and-tarp setup. "It really creates a nice seal."

Water covered backyards and seeped into garages and basements. People who live on the water are desperately trying to protect their property, but so much cannot be saved.

"All our things are destroyed. It's just kind of heartbreaking," said flood victim Sarah Harris.

For long-term residents, flood preparations have become a science.

"This is our sump pump that's been going nonstop here," Barnes said, pointing to the last part of his backyard setup.

Other neighbors who have been there through the big floods of 2007 and 2013 said this time they were prepared.

"This flooding round, we're smarter than we were the first time around. We know which houses are in danger first and who needs to be bagged first," said Rebecca Giltner.

"Having been through it a couple of times, you learn and you would be foolish to not learn and that's what made this one so easy," said Mark Korczuik.

Logan Gilbertson is a civil engineer who studies flood management professionally.

"This is very close to what they call a 100 year flood," he said.

The flood is nearly at his own front door. The top of the river typically hits six to eight feet below the surface of the road. The Fox River, officials said, reached its highest level at 12 and a half feet. Nearby meters measure water moving through the area at about 53,000 gallons per second, which is more than 3 million gallons per minute.

"We could have this flood in another month. We did have a flood at this elevation only four years ago," Gilbertson said.

A few houses off the river, Michael Mooshay learned his lesson from that flood.

"We came up with a little system to keep the water out," he said. "We built a little wall around the windows."

His wall has held; inside the crawl space is perfectly dry.

"Luckily, it hasn't gone higher than we built," Mooshay said.

That wall will need to hold for a few more days as water, very slowly, drains again.

On Sunday, Gov. Bruce Rauner toured the damage in Algonquin. He also added Cook County to the state disaster proclamation, which provides state resources - including sandbags, sand, pumps, trucks and other heavy equipment -- to those impacted by the flooding. On Friday, Rauner issued a disaster proclamation for Kane, Lake and McHenry counties.

Rauner also urged people to evacuate their communities if local law enforcement asks them to.

"We cannot force people to leave their homes. People are tough, if they experienced a flood before, often they don't want to leave. But we are making a strong request, if local officials have asked for evacuations, please honor their request. Please leave. Keep your family safe, do not stay if an evacuation is called for," Governor Rauner said.

The last time the Fox River in Algonquin got this high was in 2013. Many of folks says that flood prepared them for this one.

Sunday, the Fox River crested in the village of Fox Lake, flooding homes near the water.

In Round Lake, flooding W J Murphy Elementary School received several feet of water, with State Senator Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, posting a video on Facebook showing the damage to the school.


School officials said they do not think the school will be able to open on time in its entirety on August 21. They said they're working on developing options and hope to have more concrete information next week after meeting with a structural engineer and restoration company.

In Gurnee, the Des Plaines River is falling and is expected to drop below flood stage Thursday evening. It is expected to drop below the flood stage in Lincolnshire Friday afternoon and in Des Plaines late Thursday.

The flooding has forced Oakton Community College in Des Plaines to stay closed Monday. The school says all its campus buildings are dry, but the parking lots are flooded and Golf and Central roads are closed.

The college has been closed since Thursday, but officials have kept the Skokie campus open. Officials said they will remain closed Tuesday, and expect to reopen Wednesday.

Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital is closed for another day. Crews are cleaning up from the flooding before full hospital operations get back up and running. Officials said the hospital will reopen at 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Ambulances are being re-routed and people must go to other locations for emergency treatment.

The Chicago Botanic Garden re-opened Sunday, but some parts of it remain closed.

The Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire is still closed and the box office will open on Tuesday.

Many roads remain closed because of flooding. For a complete list, click here.

LIBERTYVILLE FARM MAY BE LOST AFTER DES PLAINES RIVER FLOODING

Libertyville farm may be lost after family cancels flood insurance for medical bills


A Libertyville family already dealing with a major health crisis are now wondering how they'll rebuild after their farm was devastated by flooding.

The family had just canceled their flood insurance to use the money, instead, to pay medical bills. At the moment the only way in and out of the farm, which is near the Des Plaines River, is by boat. It was purchased by 58-year-old Robert Moro as a gathering place for his 10 children and more than two dozen grandchildren.

But when Moro was diagnosed with a terminal illness his medical bills took priority over flood insurance. The idyllic family setting was Moro's dream, a farm where his large family could gather. He bought it less than three years ago, shortly before being diagnosed with ALS.

Angelo Komarov moved his family into the farm so he could care for his father full time. Moro is on a ventilator and unable to move. Relatives said it was quite a task to get him onto the boat in order to take him away from the house after the floodwaters rushed in last week. They fear that will be their father's last memory of the place.

"My family kind of poured everything we had into this house. Losing it's kind of hard, and I don't know how we're going to repair it because we gave everything," said Donna Ivanov, granddaughter.

The water from the Des Plaines River came quickly in the middle of the night last week. Family members staying at the farm woke up to find they were trapped. One of their first concerns was the many animals on the farm. They were able to save some, but a number of them didn't survive.

"I had to watch my goats drowning and crying for help. And it was the most saddest thing," said Angela Komarov, daughter.

Now the family is worried about where they will live. When their father got sick, they had to stop flood insurance to pay his medical bills. And the farm's buildings may be unsalvageable.

"We lived here a few years, we never had an issue. I didn't have the financial issues to, you know, pay the insurance so I had kind of skipped on it, and now we are suffering for it," Angelo Komarov said.

The family won't know how bad the condition of the house is until all the water has receded.
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