KANKAKEE — Preparations were underway in the event of flooding caused by moderate to heavy rains that were forecast for Friday through Saturday morning.
The National Weather Service has the area under a flood warning through Thursday.
NWS meteorologists are predicting 2 to 4 inches of rain for the area, which might lead to flooding of the Kankakee and Iroquois rivers. The heavy rain totals and rainfall rates also might cause flooding in poor drainage areas, creeks, tributaries and small streams as well.
The warning area includes Kankakee, Iroquois, Will, Grundy and Ford counties in Illinois and five counties in northwest Indiana, including Newton County.
According to the NWS, moderate to heavy rain will continue into Saturday morning before becoming more periodic and eventually changing over to wintry precipitation Saturday afternoon or evening.
Current forecasts predict less than an inch of snow accumulation for Kankakee, Iroquois and Ford counties and 1 to 2 inches for areas north and west, including Will and Grundy counties.
The forecast calls for snow to start around 6 p.m. Saturday and taper off by 6 a.m. Sunday.
Emergency management agencies in the affected counties have been monitoring the forecasts since earlier this week.
Kankakee County EMA Director Andy Bayston remains in contact with the weather service and will continue to monitor the weather and update the community, as needed, according to a post on Facebook from the Kankakee Sheriff’s Department. The agency has prepared sandbags for anyone in need.
The sandbags are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Those wishing to retrieve sandbags must load them themselves at the Jerome Combs Detention Center, 3000 S. Justice Way, Kankakee.
In Watseka, which has had its fair share of flooding, officials are watching the situation closely.
“We are monitoring forecasts and river readings,” Watseka Mayor John Allhands said. “[We have] reviewed procedures with department heads if events call for reactions.”
Milford and Iroquois County EMA will be monitoring the situation over the weekend, reporting that “as forecasts are updated and we observe how much precipitation we actually get, we will be keeping the public informed.”
”If you come across a flooded road, turn around and don’t drown,” read an Iroquois County EMA Facebook post. “Take this seriously folks, you don’t want to be the person the fire department has to come rescue. There is no evacuation notice currently. However, if you live in a flood-prone area, make arrangements should the worst happen.”
The river gauge for the Iroquois River in the village of Iroquois measured the river at 7.7 feet Friday afternoon. Flood stage there is 18 feet.
Friday afternoon’s gauge reading at Sugar Creek read 3.7 feet, with its flood stage set at 18 feet.
The NWS forecast levels to start quickly rising around 7 a.m. Saturday then reaching and possibly exceeding flood stage by Sunday morning. Levels are currently forecast to start receding late Sunday or Monday.
Momence Fire Chief Jim Spoon said Friday that there were no problem areas along the Kankakee River at Momence, where the NWS gauge reading was 2.7 feet Friday afternoon. Flood stage is 5 feet.