Northern Illinois rivers unlikely to open for holiday weekend boating
The end is in sight.
Local rivers, besieged for more than a week by heavy rains, have finally started to recede and should be below flood stage by Friday or Saturday.
Some are already there, including the Kishwaukee River in DeKalb, which was at a near-record flood stage last week but by Monday had dipped below its 10-foot flood stage.
“That’s looking really good if we can keep the rain away,” said Capt. Greg Hunter, Region 1 commander for the Department of Natural Resources police. The department has been assisting DeKalb County with patrols and monitoring of the river.
The rain will largely stay away. The forecast calls for a 40 percent chance of showers and storms tonight and Wednesday and clear skies afterward.
Only a few tenths of an inch of rain are expected, but it could have an effect on the rivers.
“It’s been a couple of days since it’s rained, but the ground’s been saturated,” said Stephen Rodriguez, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Romeoville. “You have to be cautious about any rain that does fall.”
The Kishwaukee and Rock rivers remain closed to traffic as the floods abate, Hunter said.
“If it does indeed drop below (flood stage), then I will work with the sheriff of Winnebago County,” he said. “As long as he and I are in agreement, then the rivers will reopen.”
Once DNR reopens the rivers, Chief Deputy Kurt Ditzler said, the Sheriff’s Department will assess safety for boaters. The department will generally implement a no-wake advisory when the river is 8 feet or higher, meaning most river traffic will be off-limits for Labor Day weekend.
“We still have the safety issues we had when it was going up now that it’s going down,” he said. “There’s still a lot of debris floating around.”
Although the rivers are closed to traffic, some people are still making their living among the floodwaters.
The residents of Blackhawk Island, a small outcropping of land in the Rock River, have largely stayed put despite a surging river that, at times, surrounded the ramshackle homes and trailers.
“Most of us are used to it,” said Tashia Clark, 26.
Most of the 100 or so residents of the swampy island stayed put during flooding. One was Arvid Linder Jr., 30, who remained in his home on East Shore Drive despite being surrounded by the Rock River over the weekend.
“It got my garage, but it didn’t get my home,” he said, gesturing toward his outbuilding that was still knee-deep in the river Monday afternoon.
Along the Kishwaukee River in New Milford, homes that back up to the river are still facing flooding in the yards.
One of the few to be spared was Geri Hamilton’s Ryberg Road residence, which sits higher than most in the area.
“We’re 18 feet up here,” she said, gesturing to the river that lined her backyard. “We had 3 more feet to go before it got us.”
Hamilton and her husband have lived in their house for more than eight years, and this is the worst she’s seen the river.
“I hope this is the end of this for the season,” she said. “I hope we don’t get the kind of snow like the kind of rain we got.”
Staff writer Sean F. Driscoll can be contacted at 815-987-1436 or email@example.com.