Heavy rains, particularly in the northeast, created a familiar scene this week along key waterways crisscrossing the state.
Rivers, including the Illinois, Fox, Vermilion, Mackinaw and Spoon, along with numerous streams and creeks, flooded acres of farmland and engulfed some homes, businesses and outbuildings.
Northern points along the Illinois River crested 7 to 10 feet above flood stage between May 19-21. In LaSalle, it crested more than 10.5 feet above flood stage, believed to be the third-highest mark on record.
Some homes and businesses were surrounded by water along the river in the LaSalle area, including downtown Utica.
Downriver, workers sandbagged at locations such as downtown Peoria and in Scott County, along its western boundary, to protect farmland and other property.
Justin Daws, flood manager with the Emergency Management Agency in Scott County, said cleanup along the levee wasn’t complete from 2019 flooding as workers prepared for the latest wave.
“Having another (river flood) for 2020 is a hard pill to swallow,” Daws told the RFD Radio Network. “It’s almost unbelievable to think we’re at this point again, already.
“We’re watching water come down (the Illinois River) from Peoria,” he noted. “The problem with the river here is it’s very level, so it acts as a big bubble. We can’t get water out quick enough.”
Much of the water came from the northeast, where the Chicagoland area and points south received 8-plus inches of rain in a matter of days. Once the flood surge crests, Illinois River water levels were projected to recede 1-2 feet per day.
Unfortunately, the weather forecast as of May 20 wasn’t conducive for things to dry out any time soon.
“There’s the prospect for rainfall to continue (during the Memorial Day weekend into this week),” Bryce Anderson, DTN chief meteorologist, told RFD. “The 10 to 14-day period is still looking fairly rainy across the Midwest.”
Statewide, 41 out of 102 counties experienced wetter conditions from January through April than the same period last year, including the wettest stretch on record in Sangamon and Logan counties and second-wettest in Christian and Menard counties, prior to the May deluge, according to the Illinois State Water Survey.