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Hold on to those sandbags

A pump works empty ditch front Michael Cummings home Tuesday St. Charles Township. During heavy  rains two weeks ago

A pump works to empty the ditch in front of Michael Cummings home Tuesday in St. Charles Township. During the heavy rains two weeks ago, floodwaters from the Fox River surrounded the home. April 30, 2013 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 2, 2013 6:06AM

SOUTH ELGIN — It’s been two weeks since the region was socked with heavy rains and flooding around the Fox River and its tributaries.

But some residents along the river are still pumping water from that event out of their property.

And some haven’t removed the sandbags thrown up on April 17-18 to keep the river from their doorsteps.

According to Alex Sosnowski, a senior meteorologist for, those residents may want to consider leaving their sandbags in place for just a little longer, too.

“I wouldn’t want to tell them what to do,” Sosnowski said, but added that with the long-term spring forecast suggesting a wetter-than-normal spring, those sandbags might come in handy again.

“Because of the risk of heavy rainfall … I wouldn’t spend the man hours to rip that down just yet,” he said.

He’s giving it a one-in-three chance that the river will again flow over its banks, if the spring rain forecast holds true.

“We are looking at the opposite of last summer, definitely. Are we going to head down the path of 1993? I don’t know if will go that far,” he said, referring to the flooding summer seen that year.

However, he does see the spring and early summer setting up for more frequent thunderstorm complexes than last year.

Still nervous

The short-term forecast — including rain later this week — doesn’t seem to be showing heavy precipitation for the area, though.

The rain predicted for northeast Illinois on Thursday and Friday doesn’t appear that it will produce flood levels, said officials at the National Weather Service in Romeoville. That system is suggesting just three-quarters of an inch of rain.

But if the rain-producing system’s center moves farther east than current models are forecasting, the region could again see a deluge.

The system’s center could produce 2 inches to 4 inches of rain in as many days, Sosnowski said.

Those predictions — for either a wetter-than-normal spring or the chance of the system moving east this week — make Steve and Sharon Daum and their neighbor, Michael Cummings, somewhat concerned.

The live in the Five Islands Park subdivision on the Fox River just south of Vasa Park, south of South Elgin. Both households are still pumping water out of their street-side yards and into the river.

Cummings still has sandbags surrounding his deck, garage and front steps.

After hearing there is a chance the river could come back up, Cummings said he probably will leave the sandbags there, at least through the weekend.

“It makes me a little nervous” knowing that more rain could be coming — at least before the river has a chance to drop, he said. Right now, the water is 3 to 4 feet closer to his house than it was after last summer’s drought.

The part of the Fox River running past their backyards is usually no more than 2 feet deep, both neighbors said. They estimate the river now is at about 4 feet.

Worse than before

The Daums decided not to sandbag during the flooding in April. Steve Daum said they did that the last time the area flooded — in September 2008 — and the water didn’t get close to the house. That was the last time they had seen flooding in the 13 years they’ve lived on Blackhawk Drive.

“This time was worse. That time, we were back to normal in a week,” Steve said.

This time around, the flooding also overflowed the family’s septic system. They have been using a port-a-potty for the past two weeks, waiting for the system to dry out.

Across the driveway from that septic field, their front yard is still wet. It’s so wet, in fact, that a couple of small carp are living in it, Steve noted.

Sharon said that while it would be nice to get their pontoon boat on the river, the high water is preventing that from happening.

“I have a feeling we won’t get it in until June or July,” she said. “Usually, we have it in by the end of May, for sure.”

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