Water receding in Villa Grove but still plenty of it there, other areas

Water receding in Villa Grove but still plenty of it there, other areas

A list of the 38 counties released by Governor Pat Quinn's office Friday did not include Douglas or Vermilion counties, where there was significant water.

In the northern Douglas County community of Villa Grove, the waters that had been rising all day Thursday and into the early morning hours Friday, appeared to begin receding around noon Friday.

"We've been holding our own for a couple hours," police department employee Beth Elston said Friday afternoon.

"Our biggest obstacle is keeping people out of the water," she said of the walkers and canoers who ventured out Friday afternoon.

Emergency responders were busy all morning as the Embarras River kept creeping up. They helped evacuate people from about 10 homes and assisted Ameren employees by taking them in boats to houses where gas and electricity had to be shut off.

Two shelters that were opened in churches — one of the east side of town and another on the west side — were planning to stay open overnight, Elston said, in case people needed a clean place to go and a bite to eat.

Illinois 130, the main north-south highway through town, was closed all day Friday. Schools and some businesses were also closed.

Douglas County Emergency Management Agency Director Joe Victor said the county board chairman signed a declaration Friday morning asking that it be included in any state disaster declaration in hopes of getting federal funds for cleanup.

Counties included in the governor's declaration included: Adams, Brown, Bureau, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Fulton, Greene, Grundy, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, McHenry, Mercer, Morgan, Peoria, Pike, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Scott, Tazewell, Whiteside, Will, Winnebago and Woodford.

Police department employee Beth Elston said police and fire officials helped rescue people from 10 homes Friday morning. She said that didn't include households where residents left on their own while they could.

Victor said besides standing water on the highways and streets, therewere reports of many flooded basements and sewage backing up in to homes.

He continued to remind people not to drive through any standing water.

"You don't know what's in the water or what surfaces are under the water," he said.

It's too early to tell if road surfaces are even intact, given the amount of water and the speed at which it's flowing over them, he said.

Victor said a car washed away on a county road near Arthur Friday morning.

"The vehicle went on its side and the people were able to get out. Villa Grove had to do a (vehicle) rescue at 3 a.m. on Illinois 130 south of town. And up on the (Douglas-Champaign) county line, Longview Fire did a rescue at 11 p.m. Thursday. The people got out but the vehicle is still there," he said.

Although 130 was closed, the Hayes Road to the west and the Longview Road to the east remained open, Elston said.

In Vermilion County, emergency management officials expected rivers there, including the North Fork and the Vermilion River, to continue rising until mid-day today.

According to the National Weather Service, the Vermilion River in Danville reached its 18-foot flood stage Thursday night shortly before 10 p.m., and was expected to reach almost 24 feet by early this morning. The river is expected to fall below flood stage Sunday morning, according to the weather service.

The North Fork River north of Danville was well beyond its banks in certain sections Friday, entirely surrounding one house on Gundy Cemetery Road on the North Fork near the bridge on Bismarck Road west of Bismarck. Gundy Road was closed to all traffic.

By late afternoon Friday, Danville police and Vermilion County Emergency Management Agency officials were recommending that people evacuate their homes in the Morin Addition, a group of homes in a low area adjacent to the North Fork River on Danville's west edge.

EMA Director Ted Fisher said they were predicting the river would continue to rise through the night Friday, flood that area, and cut off the residents from evacuation by vehicle. He said it was a voluntary evacuation Friday afternoon, but officials were providing transportation to residents who wanted to leave. Fisher said the Red Cross set up a shelter for evacuating residents at the South Side Church of the Nazarene, 1629 King St. in Tilton.

Fisher said he expects the rivers in Vermilion to crest around 12 p.m. today, but he was concerned about what would happen overnight, especially between 10 p.m. Friday and 2 a.m. today when the water is likely to still be rising but residents will be asleep.

"People need to keep an eye on things," said Fisher, who, along with other EMA officials, were planning to monitor the situation throughout the night Friday and into this morning. Fisher said the areas of most concern from river flooding are Morin Addition, Gundy Cemetery area by Bismarck and the Shangri La Road area west of Danville.

In Piatt County, the level of the Sangamon River rose over three feet due to this week's rains, but Allerton Park Natural Areas Manager John Griesbaum does not expect it to flood roads at the Monticello-area park.

"It's forecasted to get to 17 feet, which is just a foot above where it is now," Griesbaum said Friday. He added the river would need to reach 19 feet for it to flood the South entrance road, which re-opened last fall.

Griesbaum said an intersection at Allerton Road and Piatt County 1300 North Road flooded and was closed to traffic Thursday.

The river is out of its banks at the park, and while that is in stark contrast to last year's drought, "it is not uncommon."

Rising waters Thursday night had prompted the American Red Cross to open emergency shelters in Homer and Georgetown on Thursday but they closed Friday when no one took advantage of them.

In St. Joseph, Mayor B.J. Hackler said the village has been monitoring the flooding situation since Thursday night.

The Public Works Department placed barricades in areas that were flooding, Hackler said. That included several streets in town — Water, Elm, Briarcliff Drive, Second Court, Third, Fourth and Fifth streets and Douglas Street.

Hackler said the barricades were put in place to keep people from trying to drive through the water.

Hackler said once the Salt Fork River goes down the water will recede from the village.

On Friday, the Salt Fork River was out of its banks and the St. Joseph Wetlands, located near the river, was completely flooded.

U.S. 150 from St. Joseph to Urbana was free of water. On Thursday, it had been flooded between Mayview and Illinois 130.

Roads in Ogden, Homer, Allerton and Broadlands were mostly free of water.

South Homer Lake Road near Illinois 49 was completely underwater and impassable.

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