Towns along the Fox River in Kane County breathed a collective sigh of relief Monday afternoon as the river inched closer to cresting at 12.4 feet — 2.9 feet above flood stage but lower than earlier estimates, raising hopes that damage from floodwaters in the coming days might not be as bad as originally feared.
“It’s going to hold steady for a day or two and then it’s going to start dropping,” said Don Bryant, director of Kane County Office of Emergency Management.
Flood damage along the 32 miles of the river between Algonquin and Montgomery won’t come close to what occurred in 2013 when the river crested at a record 12.7 feet, Bryant said.
“It was a very slowly developing flood … and the unique thing with this event is that we didn’t have any local rain issues to deal with,” Bryant said. “Because we didn’t have the additional rainfall and the streams and creeks also flooding at the same time, it wasn’t as complex an issue.”
Having learned from past experiences, many riverfront homeowners have mitigated potential flooding by raising their homes out of the flood plain, he said.
Gov. Bruce Rauner issued a disaster proclamation for Cook, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties. The state delivered 50,000 sandbags to Kane County communities Monday.
Residents needing sandbags are urged to check with their municipalities first or go to the county highway garage at 41W011 Burlington Road in Campton Hills, Bryant said.
“The next step in the process is going to be damage assessment,” Bryant said, adding the information will be sent to the state for possible federal disaster consideration.
Kane County’s threshold for federal disaster declaration is $1.8 million of uninsured loss.
As of Monday afternoon, some Kane County roadways were partially closed, including Winaki Trail in the Algonquin Shores neighborhood and Fox River Drive going into the Richardson subdivision in Dundee Township; Lincoln Avenue between North Fourth and Sixth streets, and First Street between Main and Lincoln in West Dundee; and Preston at Linden avenues in Elgin.
Officials are warning residents not to use the Fox River for any kind of recreation purposes.
“The river remains closed to recreational watercraft,” said Molly Center, communications specialist for the city of Elgin. “We aren’t really expecting it to rise that much more. Our creek levels are starting to go down.”
Elgin’s steeper banks helped stave off flooding. The lowest river bank is at Festival Park and water there has not risen to that bank’s edge, Center said.
Residents are urged to stay away from some bike paths along Chicago Street that are not passable due to water. The city’s Walton Island — 4.5 acres of walking paths, fishing areas and a pavilion shelter for special events — south of the Elgin dam on the Fox River in downtown also is closed.
Farther south, Geneva Park District’s Island Park is closed due to flooding. Officials were forced to move a “Shakespeare in the Park” performance to River Park Saturday evening. Some forest preserve property along the river also is flooded.
“While we are watching things carefully, we are not anticipating wholesale flooding,” Mayor Kevin Burns said. “We have some private properties along the Fox River that are implementing their own flood relief programs, six or so homes along the east shore of the Fox River north of the (Route 38) bridge that we are watching closely. If necessary, the city has available 5,000 sandbags and sand.
“The clear message is this: Be smart, be proactive, and be a good neighbor by checking in on each other in case things get worse. Clearly Geneva and the Tri-Cities have escaped significant impact to date. We certainly are grateful for that but of course extend our good thoughts and warm wishes to our friends up north.”
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