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River levels peak, but risks remain as high water expected to stick around

About 800 sandbags stood between his home and the floodwaters that have turned most of his neighborhood streets into canals, but Bill Kirchner hadn’t lost his sense of humor.

“We all want waterfront (property). I got it,” Kirchner said Monday with a laugh as a family of geese swam by his residence in Holiday Hills, a tiny McHenry County town wedged between the Fox River and Griswold Lake.

Many residents said they were buoyed by a community spirit that has risen along with the waters, with volunteers helping fill sandbags and people coming together to assist each other. Kirchner said he took a kayak across the street to share a pizza with his neighbors.

But more humor and goodwill may be needed to get through the coming days. The Fox River and the Chain O’ Lakes were still rising Monday, with waters at the Algonquin dam expected to peak Monday night at almost 2 feet above flood level.

And though the flooding was expected to start receding at that point, officials cautioned that the waters would likely stay at elevated levels all week. That’s also the case along much of the Des Plaines River, which crested over the weekend after flooding many streets and homes in Lake and Cook counties.

Both counties, along with McHenry and Kane, have been declared disaster areas by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

“The good news is that the water level is going down on the Des Plaines River, but it’s going down very slowly, and we’re still in major flood stage,” Lake County Stormwater Commission Chief Engineer Kurt Woolford said Monday.

McHenry County Emergency Management Director David Christensen too said residents and officials will have to contend with high water levels for several more days.

“The longer the water stays, the more it’s going to get to some places that maybe it didn’t get to before,” he said.

Sandbags should last for a week or two, but they typically have some seepage, so without a pump,…

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