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Clean Machine
     February 22, 2018      #21-52 a2z
 
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A vehicle braves the flooded intersection of North Fifth and East Elm Streets on Wednesday afternoon as several roads began to close due to high water. The flood warning comes just more than 10 years since the devastating 2008 flood that struck the town.

Daily Journal/Tiffany Blanchette
More water woes for Watseka

Jeff Bonty
jbonty@daily-journal.com

Major flooding took hold of Watseka on Wednesday.

Time will tell if it has the makings of a January 2008 flood that led to more than 500 residents evacuated and 230 homes evacuated.

"It's rising quickly," Iroquois Management Agency Coordinator Eric Ceci said.

Ceci said the levels he saw late Wednesday afternoon were above those from the 2016 flood and matched those from the 2008 flood.

The county's emergency operation center opened Wednesday.

Watseka Mayor John Allhands said he was talking to a friend who lives near Legion Park on the city's south side.

"I could literally see it rising while we were talking," Allhands said of Sugar Creek.

At 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sugar Creek at Milford measured 28.52 feet. Flood stage starts at 18 feet, which it hit Monday.

The National Weather Service forecast called for it to crest late Wednesday.

The Iroquois River, which winds its way on the north and west sides of Watseka, had started closing streets and also had residents evacuating.

The river's level at Iroquois stood at 25.91 feet and was expected to crest at 26.3 feet at noon on Thursday. Flood stage is 18 feet.

The junction of U.S. Route 24 and Illinois Route 1 was closed due to standing water.

An American Red Cross shelter opened at Trinity Church for residents who evacuate on Wednesday afternoon. It is open to all evacuated residents in Iroquois County.

Residents in flood-prone areas were encouraged to prepare in case of evacuation, Ceci said.

Iroquois County Animal Control opened an animal shelter so people who evacuated have a place for their pets. People can contact Animal Control through 911.

Sand bag operations for Watseka residents took place for a second day, moving from Public Works to Lakeview Park.

Stockland, Milford and Cissna Park were among the towns in the county hit by flooding Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Ceci.

Woodland was preparing for flooding, he said.

Kankakee County

Kankakee County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Chad Gessner said Aroma Park took a hard hit and would have another one coming.

"The Iroquois River is a real problem," Gessner said. "It flows into the Kankakee (River) at Aroma and they still have a lot of water coming their way from Iroquois County. It could get interesting this weekend."

On Wednesday night, Aroma Fire Protection District first responders worked over an hour to check on the well being of a woman who lives on Sandbar Road.

According to scanner radio traffic, the woman told them she was waiting for one of her children to pick her up.

Flooding on Cobb Boulevard in Kankakee had homeowners concerned, Gessner said.

"The water just doesn't have anywhere to go," he said.

Pictures from a drone posted by the the sheriff's police on Facebook showed Water Street in Kankakee filled with water at Jeffers Park. Shamrock Golf Course on Illinois Route 17 east of Kankakee flooded.

Houses on River Road, Sandbar Road and Eagle Island Road looked like they were floating.

And a surreal shot of calm waters east of the Canadian National Railway Bridge and turbulent waters west of the dam near the Washington Avenue Bridge.

Inmates at the Jerome Combs Detention Center continued filling sandbags that were available to residents, who had to load into their own vehicles.

Gessner said more sand was delivered and the bagging would continue.

There was flooding along the Kankakee River at Momence.

River Road resident David Bufford said the sump pump in his basement was running every two minutes.

Bufford has lived in the home four years. The flood waters were creeping up to his house.

According to the National Weather Service, the Kankakee River had crested at 7.19 feet at 6 p.m. Wednesday. It was set to go below flood stage (5 feet) next Wednesday (Feb. 28).

Editor's note: David Bufford was misidentified in an earlier version of this story.

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