PEKIN — The region has been in the "bull's eye" of heavy rain according to the National Weather Service in Lincoln.
“As opposed to areas further south and east, where totals have been around an inch or less, counties in central Illinois have been in the bull’s-eye of the heavy rain,” said meteorologist Chuck Schaffer, who noted the area has seen 3 to 5 inches of rain since Sunday.
Schaffer said there is a chance of light rain over the next few days. He expects the next large weather system to arrive in central Illinois next week and anticipates the new system will dump as much as an inch of rain onto the area’s landscape and roads. The Illinois River in Peoria and Pekin is already above its flood stage and water levels are expected to rise through the weekend.
“For the Illinois River, the closest gauge we have would be Peoria,” he said. “The flood stage (in Peoria) is 18 feet. The current stage is 20.2 feet. It’s already above flood stage, and it’s still going to go up several more feet. As we head into the weekend, it looks like it will be cresting at about 27.5 feet around Sunday.”
The flooding forced the closure of the city's boat ramp at Riverfront Park on Wednesday. Brett Olson, with the city's Street and Solid Waste Department, said that's because of hazardous boating conditions resulting from the rapidly rising river. The ramp, he said, could be closed for up to a month.
“Once it all goes down, then we do the process of cleaning everything up, which is a daunting task because a lot of the driftwood gets stuck up there,” he added.
Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Guy Tridgell said the agency is monitoring area roads which have the potential to flood. IDOT posts a list of emergency road closures at www.idot.illinois.gov that updated frequently.
“If there’s standing water, even if it appears to be just a couple of inches, please don’t attempt to drive through it or walk through it,” he said. “It might appear to be standing water, but in many cases it’s moving and can move very quickly and very powerfully. It just takes a few inches to sweep away a car or a person.”
Local areas motorists should avoid are Koch Street and the roads near Riverway Business Park, as well as Front Street near the Waste Water Treatment Plant, as those areas have the potential to flood.
“I don’t know why anybody would need to go down there,” Olson said. ”(The city is) going to be in sandbagging mode or close to it for the next couple of days with the river rising. Motorists shouldn’t move barricades. It’s a dangerous situation down there, and we don’t want anybody to get into it. We’ve had problems with people moving barricades, and we don’t advise that at all due to safety concerns.”