Five inches of rain fall on county

Five inches of rain sent the Sangamon River out of its banks last week, but Piatt County communities reported only minor issues related to the flooding.

About 12 inches of water backed up through storm drains and into the Monticello High School boiler room and under the school’s former swimming pool. Both rooms are below grade and prone to flooding, according to Superintendent Vic Zimmerman.

“It seems as though we have an event such as this every few years. The parking lot and area immediately south of the high school was constantly flooded prior to the district re-routing storm drains several years ago to take some of the pressure off of the storm drains running from the center of town,” said Zimmerman.

Last week’s water did get into one motor in the boiler room, causing about $1,000 in damage. That’s much less than the price tag from last month’s flood of the high school, when frigid temperatures and monitoring equipment failures led to pipes freezing and bursting. The price tag for that came in at $54,000.

Insurance has covered all but $5,000 of that cost.

High school classes were cancelled for two days Jan 20-21 as cleanup and repair occurred.

Zimmerman noted it has been a hectic month for maintenance personnel.

“Our maintenance staff has done yeoman work in 2018 with several odd situations. They have pride in their work and their schools,” he commented.

The City of Monticello saw a 2,500-gallon storm water pump at the waste water treatment plant stop working during the rainfall, which eventually led to the pumping of water from two manholes in order to avoid more water for local basements.

“The Illinois Environmental Protec-tion Agency was notified of this emergency bypass pumping and the required reports submitted and samples taken,” said City Administrator Terry Summers.

There was also flooding at the intersections of Cedar and Poplar Lane and Cedar and Hickory Lane.

“Sand bags were distributed to certain residents according to our storm water response plan,” added Summers.

The practice of pumping from manholes resulted in a lawsuit against the city by the Illinois EPA in 2014. That suit was settled last August.

In Cerro Gordo, Village President Brad Williams estimated the southern portion of the county also received about 5 inches of rain, flooding some home lots and South Street across from the bus barn in that community. But he credits drainage work done in recent years for keeping most basements free of standing water.

“We have spent a great deal of time and money on drainage in the past few years and it paid off,” said Williams.

The level of the Sangamon River at Monticello rose from six feet on Sunday, Feb. 19 to 16 feet four days later, which is three feet above flood stage of 13 feet. It peaked at around 17 feet on Saturday, Feb. 24 then was expected to drop below flood stage this past Tuesday.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the highest recorded crest for the river at its Monticello monitoring station was 19.06 feet after the flash flood of April 12-13, 1994.

National Weather Service data out of Champaign showed 5.2 inches of rain fell between Feb. 17 and Feb. 22, including three inches on Feb. 20 alone. The two-day total Feb. 19-20 was 4.68 inches of the week’s 5.2 inch total.

The St. Joseph area was hit hard by flooding, and emergency personnel rescued a woman who had gotten on top of her car to escape rising waters that engulfed her vehicle near that community.


Categories (2):News, Weather


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