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Fox River surpasses last week's crest levels, officials say

Storms Friday night into Saturday morning produced heavy rain in flooded areas

ALGONQUIN – Floods are expected to rise in McHenry County after Friday night’s downpour that dumped between 1 and 2 and a 1/2 inches of rain throughout the area.

McHenry, Lake, Kane and parts of Cook counties have been declared state disaster areas after the historic flooding of the Fox River. Residents in Cary, Fox River Grove and Algonquin will still feel the effects of the continually rising waters into Saturday night and possibly Sunday, Fox Waterway Agency Executive Director Joe Keller said.

Keller said there will be a rise throughout the whole system, and the Fox River at the Algonquin tailwater has already superseded its most recent crest of 12.82 feet. Those near the lower river will be hurting the most because they will be facing both the rising river and runoff due to the ground being saturated, he said.

“We advise people to stay away from water,” Keller said. “Lots of the water has been sitting. It has bacteria and sewage overflow in it, and it’s really not the best thing for kids or even adults to be playing near or around.”

He added that he was grateful more rain didn’t fall Friday.

“It wasn’t as bad as they had talked,” Keller said. “You get to the point that you do so much physical work, you just have to pray, and I think that’s what a lot of people did.”

The Fox River at the Algonquin tailwater reached 13.04 feet Saturday morning – more than 3 and 1/2 feet above flood stage. By 4:30 p.m. it was at 12.88 feet, still above the 2013 crest which was 12.70 feet, according to the U.S Geological Survey. The river at the McHenry dam had reached 7.60 feet, also more than 3 and 1/2 feet above its 4 foot flood stage.

McHenry County remained under a severe weather alert Saturday night for thunderstorms, according to the National Weather Service. There is an elevated storm risk for Sunday as well, with flood warnings for the Fox and Des Plaines River, according to the service.

On Friday, McHenry County Board Chairman Jack D. Franks signed a new disaster declaration in response to the additional storms and growing floods. Sen. Tammy Duckworth will be meeting with Franks on Sunday to get a firsthand look at the flooding. Franks also has been in close contact with U.S. Reps. Randy Hultgren and Peter Roskam, and Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has directed the state of Illinois to send pumps to assist in Algonquin and Cary, according to a news release from the McHenry County Board.

Volunteers are needed to assist with the crisis. Disaster relief organization Team Rubicon are organizing volunteers and will be onsite at the McHenry Home Depot, 2461 N. Richmond Road, beginning Monday. Cleanup kits and buckets are available at the Home Depot for affected residents free of charge.

Residents who need volunteer help can call the Crisis Cleanup hotline at 1-800-451-1954 to request assistance. Residents can sign up to volunteer by visiting www.co.mchenry.il.us/flood.

To alleviate some of the burden from storm-related damage and help residents and emergency personnel stay connected in the wake of recent storms in Lake and McHenry Counties in Illinois, Comcast is opening up thousands of Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the area to anyone who needs them – including non-Comcast subscribers – until Friday, July 28, according to a news release from Comcast.

“Our thoughts are with those impacted by the storms. Communication after a devastating event like this is so important for residents, emergency workers and volunteers,” said John Crowley, Regional Senior Vice President for Comcast in Illinois. “We’re opening up our public WiFi to the general public in the affected areas so they have internet access to stay connected to family and friends and take care of daily tasks, including processing insurance claims, handling important household tasks and accessing other important information and resources.”

When the recovery period begins once river levels drop, McHenry County will open a multi-agency resource center so residents can meet with county, regional and statewide disaster organizations. The McHenry County health department will provide water testing kits, according to the McHenry County board.

“The perseverance and compassion I have seen from affected residents every day since the flooding began is deeply humbling and why I am so proud to call McHenry County home,” said McHenry County Board chairman Jack Franks. “We will get through this and be stronger for it.”

• Northwest Herald reporter Lindsay Gloor contributed to this report.

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