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Island Park hit hard by flooding

Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 6:47 p.m. CST
Caption
(Sandy Bressner – sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Island Park in Geneva is still flooded after Thursday's rain.

GENEVA – Sheavon Lambillotte said Island Park in Geneva was about 75 percent under water as of Tuesday afternoon, five days after heavy rains last week brought flooding throughout the area.

The park, which is next to the Fox River, has flooded, undoing some of the smaller improvements made to the park last summer.

"I don't know how extensive it's going to be, but there will certainly be a lot of refuse cleanup and tree removal," said Lambillotte, executive director of the Geneva Park District.

She said she expects all of the wood chips from the playground to be washed away once the water recedes, and she doesn't expect the plants from the flower beds to make it, either. Blanketed seating and other landscaping likely will need to be replaced, too, she said. Some erosion has started over and under the new bridge, which will need to be remedied, as well, she added.

Lambillotte said it's the worst flood in Island Park area she can remember since 1999, when she started working with the park district.

"I've never seen the island completely under water," she said.

Across the river, more than 100 volunteers helped place a sandbag barrier last week between the water and the Herrington Inn & Spa. The effort was successful.

"The wall we were racing to build fortunately was never breached," said Jennifer Piazza, director of sales and marketing at the Herrington Inn & Spa. "I strongly feel that if all those people had not been there. ... I think we would have been toast."

She said the building wasn't structurally damaged from flood water and estimated that the water had receded about two feet since Thursday. She said the task now is finding a way to remove the sand bags. To thank volunteers, Piazza said the inn and spa is hosting a "celebration of community spirit" from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

About a half-inch of rain was expected to fall Tuesday, said Gilbert Sebenste, meteorologist with Northern Illinois University. He said that amount of rain shouldn't cause more flooding. He said an extra inch or two would cause more flooding problems, however.

"The worst of it, by far and away, is over," he said.

He said flooding seemed worse last week than the mid-1990s flood from as much as 19 inches of rain falling over a period of three days. He said last week's flood came on more quickly, and the ground didn't have time to absorb as much water.

"This flood was not as bad as 1996, but the effects were disproportionately worse because this rain fell over a much shorter period time," he said.

Sebenste said so far this year, 14 inches of rain has fallen, which is already more than half of last year's total rainfall. Aside from a mix of rain and snow expected Thursday, the next rainfall isn't predicted until next week.

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