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A new record is set for the Des Plaines River as flood woes continue

Bill Wilson carries a wet vacuum to his truck as he helps a friend face the reality of the flood on Big Bend Drive in Des Plaines Saturday, July 15, 2017. | Mark Welsh/Daily Herald

Lake County officials said Saturday the Des Plaines River at Gurnee is the highest it’s been in 31 years, and it’s expected to rise a bit more this weekend.

As the Des Plaines and other rivers crest in coming days, areas hit hardest by Wednesday’s storms should get some relief by Thursday morning, when all rivers are expected to fall below flood stage.

Charles Mott, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said the flooding seen near the Des Plaines and Fox Rivers, as well as the North branch of the Chicago River, should return to “normal” by the end of the week.

Friday, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office issued a state disaster proclamation for Lake, McHenry and Kane Counties. About 6,100 structures within the watershed — which encompasses Lake County and nearby New Munster, Wisconsin — have been affected by the flooding rivers, Lake County officials said.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider toured some of the flooded areas Saturday.

Jim Oborny, left, speaks with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin about flooding in his Gurnee neighborhood during a visit by elected officials Saturday, July 15, 2017. | Joe Lewnard/Daily Herald

Patti Thompson, communications manager for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, said the state distributed 350,000 sandbags to Lake County and 50,000 to McHenry County.

Beyond that, there haven’t been many requests for assistance – at least not yet.

“We’re looking forward right now, as the water goes down, to get damage assessments,” Thompson said. “It’s not just how about how many homes have been damaged, but the type or the extent of the damage. That will help determine if we can request a disaster declaration from the federal government.”

In April 2013, a similar weather pattern flooded areas near the Des Plaines, Fox, Vermillion and Illinois Rivers, as well as the Northern branch of the Chicago River and the Eastern branch of the DuPage River.

“I don’t want to say that this will happen every four years,” Mott said. “But as the atmosphere appears to be getting warmer, it holds more water, which means rainfalls like these are possible from time to time.”