By Jim Hagerty
WINNEBAGO COUNTY — The villages of Roscoe and Machesney Park are busy handing out sandbags as the Rock River continues to rise.
According to the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department, residents may receive sandbags in the parking lot of the Machesney Park Mall, 8750 N. Second St.; and the Village of Roscoe Public Works Department, 5402 Swanson Road.
While high river levels and some flooding reported in Rockford, the most significant water encroachment continues north of the city. River levels reached 9.73 feet Monday near Rockton and could crest around 12 to 14 feet as early as Wednesday.
Although there is only a chance of showers this week, several inches of rain fell on the stateline in the past few days, including the front that caused flash flooding and river levels to wash over yards and into basements. Logs, fallen trees and other debris in the river are also causing ice jam-like conditions in some areas, lending to the severity of the problem.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the sheriff’s office closed the Rock to boat traffic over the weekend. Neighboring towns closed their river access points as well, including Cherry Valley’s decision to shut down the entire Baumann Park complex.
“I listened in on a multi-agency conference call on Saturday morning and was impressed with the high degree of professionalism and coordination with the sheriff’s department, ComEd, hospitals, shelters, fire departments, other law enforcement agencies, municipalities, and the DNR with respect to the recent flooding in Winnebago County,” County Board Chairman Frank Haney said.
“(There were) no egos—just teamwork and a focus on keeping people safe and preventing property damage. We will keep those impacted by flooding in our thoughts and prayers. Many thanks to Sheriff Gary Caruana and his team.”
Approximately 4.11 inches of rain has fallen in the greater Rockford area since July 16. There is no rain in the forecast Wednesday, though temperatures are expected to peak around 90. Showers could return Thursday morning; the weekend is expected to be around 80 all three days and clear.
Flood Warnings remained in effect for the Rock, Pecatonica and Kishwaukee rivers through Sunday. The Rock River remained closed at press time.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has issued a disaster proclamation in seven counties, including Carroll, Jo Daviess, Ogle, Lee and Stephenson because of flooding along the Rock and Pecatonica rivers there. More than 600,000 sandbags have been provided in the effort. Parts of Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook counties are also under water, prompting more rescue and recovery partnerships among several state agencies.
“We are working closely with officials in these counties to determine their need and quickly deploy fighting resources,” Rauner said in a release. “The (disaster) proclamation will ensure that we can continue to provide whatever assistance is needed to protect residents and critical infrastructure.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker declared a State of Emergency in 17 counties, including Dane and Rock. Officials in Beloit say the Rock River was at 9.28 feet Monday.
Sandbags are also available at the New Milford Fire Department, 2177 Will James Road, New Milford. R.