Record-level flooding expected along Des Plaines River

Dan Petrella

Riverside is preparing for the Des Plaines River to reach a record water level this weekend after heavy storms that hit the area Thursday. More storms are expected Friday afternoon.

The water level reached 7.62 feet at 12:45 a.m. Thursday, more than half a foot higher than flood stage, according to the National Weather Service. The river is expected to crest at 9.8 feet Saturday morning, almost 3 feet higher than flood stage, meteorologist Rich Brumer said. That would the third highest level the river has ever reached in Riverside.

The highest recorded crest was 9.9 feet on Aug. 15, 1987, according to National Weather Service records. Riverside issued a warning early Friday afternoon that flooding could affect all village streets in the west part of town near the river. The village advised all residents in affected areas to move their cars to a designated emergency parking area behind L.J. Hauser Junior High School, 65 Woodside Road. It also suggested moving as many belongings as possible to higher levels of homes.

By about 2 p.m. Friday, three houses on West Avenue were flooded and another home on Maplewood Road had water in its yard, Fire Chief Kevin Mulligan said.

“Right now, we’re hoping that we’ll drop off the (National Weather Service’s) prediction model and we’ll top off where we are now,” Mulligan said, adding that the level of flooding will depend on how much rain falls Friday.

There are currently no plans to evacuate homes, but the fire department will be in contact with residents if an evacuation becomes necessary.

“Hopefully we won’t have to evacuate,” he said.

The police department is also preparing to assist residents if flooding becomes serious.

“At 8 o’clock tonight, the entire department is going to 12-hour shifts in anticipation of flooding,” Assistant Chief Thomas Weitzel said. “We’ve canceled all vacation time, and we’ve lined up mutual aid from our neighbors.”

The National Weather service is predicting that as much as 3 inches of rain could fall as storms roll through the area Friday afternoon.

“If that’s the case, than we’re anticipating that there could be some serious flooding,” Weitzel said.

The village is providing sandbags and sand to residents in affected areas. If flooding occurs, the village will relocate cars from the affected area without the normal $500 towing fine, Weitzel said.