WINSLOW – Records were set this past weekend as the Pecatonica River and its tributaries reached unofficial peaks in northern Stephenson County.
In Winslow, the Indian Creek overran its banks and sent nearly 2 feet of water into downtown. State Route 73 was closed from Warren Road, where it crosses the creek, north to the edge of downtown. Access to town east from Winslow Road also was blocked, as the deepest part of the flood concentrated on its intersection with 73.
Longtime residents say its the worst flooding that the village of 350 residents, 1 mile south of the Illinois-Wisconsin border, has experienced in nearly 40 years.
Based on what Winslow Fire Department Lt. Ron Pina researched, it may be the worst flooding Winslow has ever experienced.
“There are a lot of people who have some serious damage,” Pina said.
Homes east of the intersection of 73 and Warren Road took in more than 1 foot of water; one house had its front door ajar.
Pina said that the fire department, located in downtown along 73, was overrun with water, and the post office next door had 6 inches enter. Many business owners downtown returned Saturday morning to check on their properties.
Cory’s Pub & Grub was one of those places.
“The lower end floods a lot when we get water up to the back parking lot, but it’s never been up to the main floor,” Pina said.
One mile north of Winslow, just across the state line, the Pecatonica reached a record height of 22.41 feet in Martintown; the previous standard was 21 feet. (Green) County Route D was open throughout town, but several structures along the river took in as much as 3 feet of water.
Several low-lying roads in Stephenson, Carroll and Jo Daviess counties remained closed as small rivers and creeks, as well as field runoff, spilled onto roads.
The Carroll County Sheriff Department reported no major incidents due to high water last week.
The Pecatonica River and its tributaries started to recede Sunday night back to normal levels, but more flooding is to come along the Mississippi River.
At Lock and Dam No. 13, north of Fulton, there is a 50 percent chance from April 15 to 29 that the Mississippi will reach 23 feet, a 25 percent chance of eclipsing the record of 24.75 feet set on April 28, 1965, and a 10 percent possibility of the river reaching 27 feet.
Similar prediction parameters are expected at Lock and Dam No. 12 in Bellevue, Iowa.
Some houses along the river in Thomson are affected at 16 feet, and Sabula, Iowa sees water come in at places at 18 feet. Backyard flooding is present at some Savanna properties at 20 feet. Driscoll’s Island, west of Sabula, is submerged at 23 feet, and threatens the BNSF railway tracks in Savanna at 24 feet. The Savanna-Sabula causeway, south of the bridge going into Sabula, is affected at 25 feet.
At Lock and Dam No. 13, the Mississippi rose from 7.08 feet on March 11 to 15.06 feet Saturday afternoon before receding. However, after a forecasted dip to 13 feet Tuesday, the river at both Fulton and Bellevue is expected to rise to 16.2 feet on Sunday.
The only damage noted in Savanna was seen along the boat docks due to the ice gorge, Savanna Fire Chief Shawn Picolotti said.
Picolotti and his staff are keeping a close eye on the river, given its predictions. They had a meeting last week with city officials to discuss emergency plans.
“We’re keeping an eye on it and see what’s going to happen,” Picolotti said. “It’s hard to look ahead a month, and it’s a what-if at this point.”