Residents in northern and northwestern Illinois continue to deal with flooding at
levels not seen for years.
The Pecontonica River and the Rock River have overflowed their banks, causing
problems for nearby residents in the Freeport and Rockford areas. Candice King,
chief meteorologist for WTVO-TV in Rockford, said several factors led to the
“When we had all this snow, we had the rain come down and the rain came down
on top of snow with nowhere for it to go because the ground was frozen and
saturated,” King said. “It just ran off into the rivers. There was a quick rise in the
rivers here in just a short amount of time.”
That, combined with both local snow melt and snow melt from southern Wisconsin,
has led to a catastrophic situation for some homeowners in the region.
“Some of these rivers got to levels that hadn’t been experienced since back in the
1970s or even the 20s and 30s,” King said. “We’re talking historical river levels
here across northern Illinois.”
One of those homeowners is state Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, who
represents an area along the Rock River north of Rockford.
“I live on the river, and I’ve lived on the river since ’01,” Cabello said. “2008 was
the worst I’ve ever seen it. This one has passed ’08.”
Stephenson County officials have issued a disaster declaration for areas along the
Pecatonica River, which crested in Freeport at its highest level since 1933.
Authorities there say rescue workers have helped to evacuate more than nearly 200
people from their homes.
Water levels aren’t expected to move much in the coming days.
“We’ve got kind of a dry period, so the rivers will slowly start to recede,” King
said. “But they’re going to stay in that moderate-to-major flood stage through at
least the upcoming week, if not through the end of March.”
Winnebago County officials said initial estimates indicate hundreds of homes
throughout the area have been impacted. Numerous roads remain under water and
impassable. They’ve also issued an emergency declaration.
“It’s the worst flood we’ve had in [Machesney Park] history, at least since they’ve
been recording it,” Cabello said. “Lots of people who never have water in their
homes have water in their homes.”
If the emergency declarations are recognized by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the counties would
be eligible to get resources and funding from the state to help with cleanup.
[This story is from Illinois Radio Network News.]