Community groups work to prevent water damage

CRYSTAL LAKE – Volunteers and prisoners in Nunda Township worked side-by-side Friday to fill sandbags in preparation for continued flooding in McHenry County.

The McHenry County prisoners and volunteers planned to fill 12,000 bags in addition to the 12,000 that were filled Thursday.

“They all came together for the community,” Nunda Township Highway Commissioner Don Kopsell said. “It’s really great.”

As of Saturday morning, the Fox River was at 12.36 feet at Algonquin and is expected to crest Sunday afternoon at 12.8 feet, lower than previous National Weather Service estimates.

Water levels are expected to begin dropping Monday morning, but will not go below “major flooding” levels until about midday Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

In McHenry, the Fox River was at 6.95 feet Saturday morning. The major flood stage is 7 feet.

While waiting for the waters to crest, emergency responders, residents and volunteers from across the county continue to work to prevent further damage.

The residents of at least five homes in Spring Grove have evacuated their homes as Nippersink Creek continues to rise, Spring Grove Fire Chief Rich Tobiasz said. Other residents still are sandbagging and plan on staying put.

Some roads have been closed. About 75 feet of Jackson Road three miles southwest of Marengo has washed away from floodwaters, Riley Township officials reported. Algonquin officials advised drivers to avoid the area surrounding the downtown because streets adjacent to the Fox River have flooded.

Other parts of Illinois and the Chicago suburbs have been hit just as hard or harder.

Gov. Pat Quinn declared 38 counties as state disaster areas. Evacuations have been ordered in parts of some central Illinois communities.

Of particular concern in the Chicago area is the Des Plaines River, which is already sending record levels of water down through the heavily populated western suburbs and into the Illinois River to the southwest.

In Des Plaines, the river was at 11 feet on Friday — about 6 inches above flood stage — and isn’t expected to crest in some locations for another 48 hours, said National Weather Service hydrologist Bill Morris in Chicago.

What was so unusual about this week’s storm, Morris said, was its reach — spreading rain evenly over entire watersheds.

“The volume of water was much greater than you might see, say, in summer when you have flash flooding that occurs in much more localized areas,” Morris said.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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