Flood waters start to recede in Watseka, Iroquois County

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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner made six stops on Saturday to areas impacted by the flooding. (WLS)

After several days of major flooding and evacuations in Watseka, Ill., waters levels are slowly receding throughout Iroquois County.

This is the third time since June that the small town, located just 90 south of Chicago, has become overrun by flood waters after heavy rains caused the Iroquois River and the Sugar Creek to overflow.

On Saturday, water was receding on Watseka's west and south side, however waters are not expected to recede on the north side until the middle of next week.

In Watseka, Earl Norris' house is under water and his car is damaged.

"I'm reading to move," Norris said. "I want to move out of this house as soon as I can."

When the flooding hit, dozens of people were forced to evacuate. Some families sought shelter at Trinty Church where an emergency shelter was set up. A separate shelter was set up for pets.

Larry Hustedt, an elder at Trinity Church, said people displaced by the floods suffer financially, but also emotionally.

"They also lose a part of themselves in the process," Hustedt said.

Although the worst appears to be over, it's still tough for many who just completed cleaning up from the last flood in July. That flood was said to have been a 100-year flood.

"Hopefully, the water will be complete gone from town and other roads in the next few days. We'll just have to see how fast the water drops," said Eric Cecil, the Iroquois County emergency management coordinator.

Local officials, who are still trying to get secure some federal assistance, said FEMA is not in the area.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross passed out clean-up kits Saturday afternoon as some residents are returning home, trying to salvage what they can.

On Friday and Saturday, Gov. Bruce Rauner toured areas hit by the floods in central and southern Illinois. He made six stops on Saturday.

About 20 Illinois National Guard soldiers have been activated to help with recovery efforts.

Rauner also declared disaster areas for 12 counties, which allow for the communities to receive federal relief funds.

"We want to try to free up federal resources and get reimbursement from the federal government," Rauner said. "We also want to make sure that we have state personnel here supporting local responders and making sure we got equipment, supplies, and sandbags as needed."

Elsewhere, Officials are taking a boat through flooded areas to locate any possible stranded pets. Nearly two dozen dogs and cats have been rescued since Thursday.

The Illinois River is going to be at "major flood stage" for the next three days and could crest near historic levels, according to the National Weather Service.

Flooding began last weekend throughout the Midwest after heavy rains, which caused 24 deaths. Many people were forced from their homes and some are still living in shelters. The worst flood damage is in the St. Louis area.
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