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County prepares to clean up once floodwaters recede

Caption
As seen Saturday morning, the Fox River continues to rise in Algonquin. The National Weather Service expects it to crest Sunday afternoon. (Stephen DiBenedetto - sdibennedetto@shawmedia.com)

Algonquin and McHenry officials kept a constant eye on the Fox River on Saturday as they prepared for water levels to crest and the subsequent cleanup effort to begin.

The torrential rain earlier in the week has caused water levels to spike along the Fox River, flooding numerous residential areas in communities like Algonquin, McHenry and Johnsburg.

Algonquin residents living around LaFox River Drive have felt the greatest consequences, with properties near the downtown area being flooded on both sides of the river, said Mike Kumbera, assistant to Algonquin’s village manager.

Village staff have been monitoring the floodwaters around the clock, and they placed sandbags at six different points along the river for property owners to use to guard against rising river water.

“The river crest is still ahead of us, so we’ll keep monitoring conditions and providing sandbags for residents, until the waters recede and at which time we can begin recovery efforts,” Kumbera said.

The Fox River in Algonquin was at 12.44 feet Saturday evening and is expected to crest Sunday morning at 12.53 feet, lower than previous National Weather Service estimates.

The high waters, nearly three feet above flood stage, continued to shut down public areas along the river, including Cornish Park. Areas also were blocked within the Riverfront Park, where water reached the top steps of the park’s gazebo.

Homes and businesses throughout Illinois have been inundated with water and thousands of people have been evacuated. Gov. Pat Quinn toured several flooded communities along the Fox River Valley on Saturday and designated four more counties as disaster areas, bringing the total to 41.

In the McHenry area, historic water levels, along with debris and overnight ice, caused River Road to close Saturday between Charles J. Miller Road and Lily Lake Road. The road will likely stay closed until floodwaters recede, said Mike Majercik, battalion chief for the McHenry Township Fire Protection District.

The Fox River reached 7.15 feet Saturday evening at the McHenry dam, pushing the area into a major flood stage and threatening the record of 7.2 feet set in 1986, the National Weather Service reported.

Homes that border the Fox River in subdivisions like Orchard Heights and Holiday Hills in McHenry Township were flooded, forcing some residents there to evacuate, Majercik said. But other residents decided to stay and still had access to clear roads.

The fire department did not respond to any flooding emergencies Saturday, but firefighters were prepared to use boats to reach affected residents along the river, Majercik said.

The rising waters in the McHenry area were expected to crest late Saturday night, he said.

“We hope by the end of the day, the worse will be over, and we will start to see improvement,” Majercik said.

Spring Grove residents saw relief from flooding Saturday, after the Nippersink Creek reached a crest late Friday night. Some homeowners around Linden Avenue and Gray Street had already evacuated, after floodwaters from the creek reached their homes.

Spring Grove Fire Chief Rich Tobiasz told his department that the flood waters would recede in the coming days, barring additional rainfall.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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