HOLIDAY HILLS – For three days, Linda Gethner's Holiday Hills home was surrounded by water after heavy thunderstorms pounded McHenry County earlier this month.
The power was out. The plumbing didn't work. A foot of water had seeped into her crawlspace.
She and her husband were trapped.
“Worst disaster of my life,” Gethner said. “I thought I was going to lose my husband, who is 75, trying to sandbag and save the house.”
Floodwaters wreaked havoc on many Holiday Hills homes, and some people still are dealing with high water levels and a cleanup effort that likely will take weeks.
The water level receded enough so Gethner and her husband could leave their home, but her neighbors down the street weren't as lucky. Two homes still were surrounded by water Monday, one of which received upward of 10 feet of water inside, Gethner said.
“A guy down here can't get in and out of his house without a boat,” she said. Her two neighbors have evacuated their homes.
The day for many Holiday Hills residents begins with pumping. And more pumping. And bleaching carpets and floors to remove the stench of sewage and floodwaters. And then more pumping.
“We've gone three days without sleep – nights and days – to fight the water,” Holiday Hills resident Gloria Kraft said. “It's very, very devastating.”
Kraft has spent more than $1,000 on rental pumps and gasoline over the past seven days as water leaked into her family room, laundry room and sunroom.
But the biggest cost for many people will come next month with the utility bill.
“Between the gas bill and the ComEd bill, it's gong to be real fun,” said Jennifer Osterman-Keyes, a Holiday Hills resident who saw two-and-a-half feet of water approach the line of sandbags she placed in front of her home.
“But kudos to Iron Mike who actually did a whole bunch for everyone in the township,” Osterman-Keyes added, referring to Mike Lesperance, who recently won the Nunda Township election for highway commissioner.
Many in Holiday Hills credited the Nunda Township for a swift and thorough response to the floodwaters.
“If it hadn't been for the township and the firemen and everybody that volunteered, we would have lost everything,” Gethner said. “We called, and within an hour, they were here.”
“The township staff are the hardest-working men, and they really care about serving their community,” said Joe Maldenke, operations manager for Nunda Township.
Township volunteers filled sandbags for 18 hours a day, over three days, and delivered them to affected residents.
And next Monday township volunteers will be picking up sandbags that residents put on the side of the road, Maldenke said.