Deep freeze prevents furthur Machesney flooding

Staff reports

Photo gallery: Machesney families evacuate

Temperatures dropped as low as minus-10 degrees in the early morning hours today, freezing the Rock River in Machesney Park, which officials say has prevented water levels from rising, preventing further flooding.

It was a cold and blustry night for firefighters and deputies who helped shuttle evacuees from their homes.

But it was not as cold as it was on Jan. 23, 1936, when temperatures dropped to a bone-chilling minus-24.

The warmest Jan. 23 in Rockford’s history was in 1909, when temperatures reached a springlike 55 degrees.

A normal Jan. 23 falls somewhere in the middle, the National Weather Service says, with a high temperature of 27 degrees and a low of 11 degrees.

8:39 a.m.: Flood evacuation count at 7 Machesney homes

A total of seven Machesney Park homes have been evacuated after Wednesday’s wintertime deluge sent families packing.

Six of the homes are on Shore Drive, which butts the Rock River. One is on Liberty Boulevard, said Dennis Lolli, director of Winnebago County’s Emergency Services Disaster Agency.

Forty other homes remain surrounded by water, and it’s unclear how many of those actually have water inside, Lolli said.

“I’ve heard water is around some homes, I’ve heard some have a little inside,” he said. “We just don’t know.”

Lolli said authorities will give displaced residents an “all-clear” before they are allowed to return, but he is unsure when that will be, as water levels are fluctuating beyond prediction.

No cleanup from the floods has begun, Lolli said.

8:21 a.m.: Only 1 takes advantage of flood shelter

Just one woman has made use of a shelter that was set up at Machesney Park’s Riverside Community Church, 8616 N. Second St., for residents displaced by Wednesday’s icy floods.

The woman stayed the night and has left, a church employee said. Other evacuees had places to stay with family or friends, officials said.

The Red Cross remains onsite at the shelter.

7:38 a.m.: Flood of worry saturates Machesney Park

Sheriff’s deputies are driving around low-lying parts of Machesney Park this morning to see whether any homes are in danger of flooding and how many families might need help.

Officials in the department’s mobile command unit, which remains today at Harlem Road and North Second Street, said water levels did not appear to be rising, at least not fast, because the Rock River has frozen over.

Officials at Winnebago County’s Emergency Services Disaster Agency and the Sheriff’s Department had not confirmed the number of people who have left their homes.

By Wednesday night, six families had left their homes and at least seven more had been urged to do the same. At least 40 homes were surrounded by water.

A flood warning is still in place for southeastern Winnebago County until 6:30 p.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

As of 4:30 a.m., minor flooding was reported along Y Boulevard, just north of Whitman Street in Rockford.

Flooding remains possible south and east of Country Club Beach Road, the weather service says.

Machesney Park residents can still get sandbags at the old Logli store, 8010 N. Second St., and the Harlem Township offices, 819 Melbourne St.

Rockford Register Star