• WEATHER ALERT Winter Weather Advisory

17 Illinois counties declared disaster areas

Boating banned on Fox River, Chain O' Lakes
June 17, 2008 10:50:47 AM PDT
As residents wait for the floodwaters to crest, 17 counties -- including Lake -- have been declared disaster areas.The rising waters of the Fox River have not just impacted homeowners in Lake and McHenry counties. Dozens of businesses along the river depend on boaters for their primary source of income. In the last week or so, a lot of that income has been washed away because of the flooding and boating ban.

Officials have closed the Fox River from the Illinois border to the Algonquin dam. Boaters are also banned from the Chain O' Lakes. The ban has been in effect for the last week.

"We don't want anyone getting hurt. We want this to be under control and over with as soon as possible. But we don't need anyone to be part of the problem. And if we have to go out and rescue someone and put other people's lives in danger because of responding to these things," said Steve Smouse, Antioch Township.

Usually this time of year the Sequoit Marina in Antioch Township is filled to capacity, but summertime boaters can't take advantage of the Fox River or surrounding lakes.

While the boats that haven't been removed from the harbor are tied up to docks that are under water, a wall of sandbags and several pumps are working full time to keep the inside of the marina dry.

"Business is bad now for everybody. We have had a lot of our competitors call us, they are under water. A lot of our neighbors, you know, are under water with their houses. So it could be a lot worse. This is a business, but there are a lot of people that are suffering personally," said Kris Murphy, Sequoit Marina.

The flooding in a nearby subdivision is getting worse. Streets are blocked off and cars are stuck in their driveways.

Over the last week, volunteers have stacked up more than 15,000 sandbags in the neighborhood, each weighs about 50 pounds. John Schmidtke is overseeing the effort. He says he needs more help from local officials.

"On the county level, I know they are doing the best they can. I just feel that on a local level there should have been a little bit more support, especially now, there is going to be a need for sanitation, outhouses, which I made the call [Monday] personally to get some in here, so again, I'm back to trying to get things organized and running again," said John Schmidtke.

Officials warn that the flooding has resulted in a dangerous current, which claimed the life of a 76-year-old Chicago man Monday afternoon.

Three men were thrown into the Fox River near McHenry. The river's current pushed their small boat toward the dam. It capsized while they were trying to get to safety.

"We told them not to go over by the dam. It was dangerous at which time they paddle boated over to the lock there," said Jerry Lameka, witness.

"I yelled at them, 'Don't grab a hold of it, just go under it. That way you could come to shore at the bottom.' But they reached up and grabbed a hold of it anyway. When they did, the boat tilted and they went out," said Bill Craft, witness.

JC Trotter, 76, drowned. The retired postal worker had traveled to McHenry from Chicago's West Side for a day of fishing. Two others who were with Trotter were both pulled from the water.

The flood warning continues Tuesday for the Fox River and Des Plaines River.


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