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Floods hit McHenry County hard

Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 6:09 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:40 a.m. CDT

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The house on Sunset Drive in Cary was the first one Nathan Hughes and Vanessa Barrie bought together.

They had no idea that less than five weeks after they moved in, the lower level of their home would be filled with 4 feet of water.

“We lost everything,” Hughes said. “We just bought the house. It was completely revamped. New carpet. New paint. New everything. We just bought the washer and dryer.”

The Cary neighborhood the couple live in – where Sunset and Crest drives meet – has always been hit hard by floods. After heavy rainstorms, water will rush down Crest Drive, pummeling the homes that sit at the bottom of the hill.

Wednesday morning was no different.

At least half a dozen neighbors saw water fill the lower level of their homes after 6 inches of rain fell in a matter of hours. They were some of the people around McHenry County who had to deal with flooding issues as 4 to 6 inches of rain fell Wednesday morning.

The storm forced Metra to close the McHenry branch between McHenry and Crystal Lake as Union Pacific workers made repairs to the embankment supports underneath the tracks.

Metra said on its website that service on the McHenry branch has been fully restored and trains will operate on schedule for Thursday’s morning rush hour.

The National Weather Service extended its flash flood warning until 10 a.m. Thursday. No additional heavy rain is expected, but flooding will be slow to subside across the area, the weather service said.

On Wednesday, roads were closed or deemed impassable because of the high waters. At points during the day, people were asked to avoid Route 22 in Fox River Grove, Route 31 between Bull Valley Road and Route 120 in McHenry, and Route 176 in front of the Countryside Flower Shop in Crystal Lake, among others.

As of 9:30 p.m., the Fox River was at 10.72 feet at the Algonquin Tailwater. Flood stage is 9.5 feet.

Rainfall from Wednesday morning totaled several inches throughout the county, according to the weather service. That includes more than 6 inches of rain in Cary, 4.5 inches in Crystal Lake, 4.4 inches in McHenry, 4 inches in Woodstock and more than 2.5 inches in Algonquin.

The McHenry County Department of Health placed all public beaches on a heavy rain advisory due to the increased potential for high bacteria counts.

Residents are encouraged to refrain from swimming two to three days after heavy rainfall. The beaches will be tested for bacteria levels on Thursday.

The Country Club Estates in McHenry had to close to all traffic for about an hour and 20 minutes after a pole with multiple transformers fell over, police said.

Sgt. Brian McKeen said about 4:45 p.m. emergency personnel responded to a call of a pole leaning over a pond. The pole was being held up by some wires that eventually gave way. One of the transformers fell into the water, leading to a “brilliant flash of light,” McKeen said.

The pole was situated on an embankment of the pond, but with the high amount of water Wednesday, the bank around the pole washed out, McKeen said.

ComEd was on scene to help clean up and relocate the pole. There was some power outages, but localized to the Country Club Estates, McKeen said.

The village of Lakewood encouraged residents to minimize their use of water over the next 24 hours, according to a news release. The recommendation aims to decrease the possibility of water backups due to overuse.

In Bull Valley, Village Administrator Rich Vance said a 60-foot-long, 8-foot-wide walking bridge over Boone Creek at the Boone Creek Golf Course was washed away.

In Lake in the Hills, water flowed over Willow Street west of Council Trail, which closed the roadway.

Lake in the Hills police officer Larry Wright said he had not seen flooding this bad since the Midwest floods of 1993.

In Lake Barrington, emergency personnel started a recovery operation after a man and a dog were reported in Flint Creek. The man was seen with his head above the water, and the dog was past him, said Barrington Fire Lt. Mike Brown. Both were floating downstream with the current.

Nunda Township resident Glen Gabel lives on a private road off Terra Cotta Road.

He spent all of Wednesday morning bailing water out of his window.

“Everything is washed out,” Gabel said. “Around my house I have two retention ponds, and they are at the highest levels I have ever seen, and I have lived here for 45 years.”

• Reporters Lawerence Synett and Tarah Thorne contributed to this article.

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