The river is expected to peak Tuesday, above what they thought but should be low enough to avoid damage. Will check with the weather service and downtown businesses to see what is happening. We hear some low areas in and around Chillicothe are already flooding.
When the Illinois River floods, the small stretch of beach in Betty McCloskey’s backyard disappears.
If the river floods more, that won’t be the River Beach Drive resident’s only problem.
"We have trouble with our drains," she said. "Water will come up the concrete floors."
When it floods, her septic tank won’t take any excess water, and she can’t use her washing machine, so she heads to a laundromat.
"When it gets bad, water goes over my sea wall and crashes up against my back doors and windows," she said.
The river hasn’t flooded that much yet, but heavy rains in northern Illinois have caused creeks and streams there to fill up and feed into Illinois River basins, said Chuck Schaffer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln. Many areas in northern Illinois have experienced between 10 and 14 inches of rain this month.
"Now all that water is coming downstream," he said.
The river has risen above flood stages at banks in many towns, though it’s expected to crest at those locations by the end of this week. Peoria, Havana and Henry all have reported the river above flood stage; Beardstown is expected to rise above its flood stage later this week.
The river at Peoria is expected to crest today at 22.5 feet; the flood stage is 18 feet. The water levels caused the LST 325, docked just north of the Interstate 74 bridge, to postpone leaving Peoria for Quincy.
The ship will stay in Peoria until the river falls to a level that allows the ship to sail, and likely won’t go upriver to Henry until Sunday, the ship’s captain said Monday. The LST was expected to leave Peoria for Henry on Wednesday. With the delay, the ship won’t open in Henry until Sunday and will remain there until Sept. 5. It will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily while it remains docked in Peoria.
Tracy Nichols, owner of the River Station on the riverfront, said he frequents a Web site that measures the river and its anticipated crest.
"(The expected crest) will not have an impact on us at all," he said. "At that point, I don’t really think it floods the parking lot on the riverfront. It won’t ever enter the River Station building itself until 30 feet," he said.
The river at Havana and Beardstown is expected to crest Wednesday and Friday, respectively.
Havana will experience moderate flooding, but city and Mason County officials say they aren’t expecting major problems.
"We closed off one road near Riverfront Park as a precaution, but if the water levels rise, they’ll just be in the park," Havana City Clerk Ruby Miller said Monday.
Mason County Emergency Services and Disaster Agency Coordinator Greg Griffin said water levels there are expected to climb to 17 feet — 3 feet above flood stage — by Wednesday, but won’t be a problem for homes near the river.
Many who live along the Illinois River say they know annual flooding occurs, but think living near the river makes up for the problems.
"There’s no backyard," said Angela Cheatham, who lives along River Beach Drive and saw the 40 to 50 feet between her house and the river swallowed up by water. "It’s still worth it. It’s much better to have the beauty."
The water is expected to slowly recede, barring any large amounts of rain in the state, said Heather Stanley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln.
"If we were immediately to snap into a dry period, it’d go down," she said. "If we get normal amounts of rain, it’s a little slower to respond."
Jacqueline Koch can be reached at 686-3251 or email@example.com.