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Waters rise after drenching rains

Published: Friday, April 19, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, April 19, 2013 3:18 p.m. CDT

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DeKALB – Flooding issues are expected to continue until Saturday morning after a record-setting, two-day rainfall.

Northern Illinois University meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste estimated more than 5 inches of rain will have fallen in the 48-hour period from Wednesday morning to this morning. The National Weather Service projected that the Kishwaukee River will crest with a gauge reading of about 11 feet, 2 inches – the ninth-highest crest level in the river’s history.

Flood stage for the Kishwaukee River’s south branch in DeKalb is 10 feet. The last time the river crested higher than 11 feet was during a September 2008 storm when it peaked about 11 feet, 3 inches. An 11-foot crest would cause complete flooding of Clifford Drive near Prairie Park south of Route 38, and street flooding in the northern part of DeKalb.

As of 1 p.m. Friday, the river had fallen to below the flood stage at 9 feet, 9 inches.

Sebenste said the river would return to bank level by early Saturday morning.

“The worst [of the rain] is definitely over,” he said. “We will have very, very light showers [Friday] afternoon, but it won’t exasperate the flooding.”

Flooding caused evacuations in Sycamore and DeKalb on Thursday and spurred many residents to seek free sandbags from the DeKalb Public Works Department. Mike Thompson, who works for rental agency Mason Properties, was helping residents of Ashbury Court East apartments on Taylor Street in DeKalb evacuate and move their belongings to other empty units owned by Mason Properties.

Volunteers and tenants were placing sandbags in front of the ground-level windows in case water reached the building Thursday night.

“It’s been about five years since it has been this bad,” Thompson said of the flooding. “We’re hoping there will be no water damage.”

In Sycamore, residents of Evergreen Village Mobile Home Park were evacuated and will not be allowed to return to their homes until the evacuation order is lifted. The American Red Cross opened a shelter at St. John Lutheran Church, 26555 Brickville Road in Sycamore, for those unable to stay with family or friends.

Dennis Miller, the coordinator of the DeKalb County Emergency Services and Disaster Agency, said the evacuation will last through the weekend.

Gov. Pat Quinn issued an emergency declaration following the flooding and severe weather affecting areas across northern Illinois. The action will open access to federal resources including generators, pump systems, sandbags and money.

Although DeKalb County could tap into federal assistance, there was plenty of local help for residents Thursday afternoon. More than 50 Northern Illinois University students gathered at DeKalb’s water department to fill sandbags for residents in need.

DeKalb Ward 1 Alderman David Jacobson, who coordinated the student gathering with his fraternity Sigma Alpha Mu, said students from multiple organizations came to help for about four hours, filling more than 500 bags.

DeKalb had more than 48 tons of sand on hand for residents.

“We appreciate all the work [students] put in,” Jacobson said. “If they need us [Friday], we’ll be here.”

Despite the heavy rainfall, power outages throughout the county were limited and brief. About 1,200 households in DeKalb Township and south DeKalb were without power between 6 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., but all outages were resolved by Thursday afternoon, ComEd spokesman Paul Callighan said.

Though weekend conditions should be fine, Sebenste said, there is still a threat for flooding activity early next week. He said there is a chance for “significant rain” Tuesday, and if river levels have not subsided enough, there could be more flooding.

“It’s tough to tell right now,” Sebenste said. “We could return to a flood stage.”

Up next
Very light showers for today

Accumulated rainfall: 4.5 inches Thursday afternoon, estimated to be 5 inches in some areas.

Kishwaukee River gauge level: 10.2 feet Thursday afternoon. Estimated to hit 11.2 feet Thursday night. The flood stage is 10 feet.

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