Rivers overflow banks after heavy rains

April 10, 2008 8:59:37 PM PDT
The Fox and the Des Plaines rivers have overflowed their banks and threaten homes and schools in some Chicago suburbs.With sandbags in place, many residents are bracing for what could come.

The water has gone over the banks of the Des Plaines River. Fortunately, however, no homes were suffering flood damage as of 10 p.m. Thursday, but that could change in the next day or so.

One man nervously watched the rain fall as the Fox River in front of his home continues to rise. He knows he's got some sandbagging work to do and soon.

"You just have to be ready, whether you like it or not, you just start doing it and keep turning it out," said John Schmidtke, Antioch resident.

It was just a few months ago last fall when they had to pile up sandbags to protect homes along a mile or so stretch of the river. Now the creek is also overflowing and threatening homes. The rain has added to the problems but it is the river stage further north causing the most concern.

"We'll have to start a sandbagging operation here tomorrow morning and try to get a jump on this the best we can, try to protect as much property as we can," said Lee Shannon, Antioch Emergency Management Director.

Further west, the river is taking over some yards in McHenry.

In Gurnee, the Des Plaines River is over the banks, covering a park.

So far, officials from Lake and McHenry counties say no homes have to be evacuated but the Fox River has started to creep up awfully close. Residents in this area say they are used to filling up sandbags.

"It took a couple days, like three days, to get it all done," said homeowner Cassy Taylor.

They are not taking any chances. With the help of several friends, Taylor's entire home has been surrounded by a wall of sandbags. So far, the basement is pretty dry. But the rising river is causing a lot of problems.

"We can't do laundry or take showers here or do dishes. (We) flush the toilet as rarely possible," she said.

Because of the steady rainfall, the Fox River is threatening several homes in the Holiday Hills community. Streets are slowly starting to flood. And in many cases, it's hard to see how deep the water is. Our own ABC7 live truck had to be towed out of a muddy ditch.

In Gurnee, the Des Plaines River is starting to creep up on an elementary school, so they put down a few sandbags there just in case.

"Looks like the storm has divided and some of it is going north and some going south, looking at maybe an inch or so, which we can handle. We think that would probably put the river level up around eight feet. Listed at the flood stage but it's not the stage it would get up into the building," said Supt. John Hutton, School District 56.

The sandbagging effort is costing an awful lot of money for communities like Antioch, money they're not being reimbursed for from FEMA but have no choice. They've got to do it to try to protect the homes in their community.

In Holiday Hills, neighbors say so far, the flooding isn't too bad.

"This will be our fifth flood so far. The house has been surrounded by water four times," said homeowner Bob Harvey.

"This is nothing yet. This is good. Other years, you would have been standing in water right there," said Gene Verush.

And neighbors say even just this past fall, the water was a lot higher, a foot higher.

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