Freeport residents react to the major flooding, city working to clean up

FREEPORT, Ill. (WIFR) -- This year has brought one of the worst floods Freeport has seen since 1975, causing many businesses and schools to completely close. Residents are now trying to cope with the flood as the city works on a plan to try to fix the problem.

"I love my home, I love my neighbors, but I’ve decided I’ve got to give up. I can no longer go through this again,” said Ramona Roby who has lived on the east side of Freeport her whole life. Roby has finally decided she's going to have to relocate after the most recent flood.

"It’s getting discouraging because you lose stuff. People help give you stuff, you buy stuff, and then you lose it again," said Roby.

The water level crested at 16 feet 2 inches on Sunday, which is higher than the flood last July which crested at 15 feet 6 inches. The 24 inches of snow on the ground plus the 3 inches of rain combined with the frozen ground created a major flooding atmosphere. The city has been doing house checks and putting sand out for residents in need. In just the past week, the city performed 41 water rescues.

"The water was so high this year that it came all the way up to the concrete on the sidewalk to my third step. I haven't ever seen that in my life so that means it was deep. I can walk in some areas and the water will come up to my thighs,” said David Martin, a Freeport resident.

Taylor Park Elementary School has been closed the past two days.

"We’ve been going through this stuff since we were kids. They come around here in paddle boats getting us out; it's unreal. There's no reason for it to keep happening like this," said Gloria Lewis, a Freeport resident.

"This year is really bad. The people are helping us where they can but we've got to live through this kind of stuff. I wish they would make a dam or something so they could cut the water off that way it won't flood this area out," said Martin.

The city has been getting drone video of the flooding every day to see where most of the water is coming from.

"That area is really at the turn of the Pecatonica River, so we believe from what we've seen from the drone pictures, that that was where the flooding came from. So we have a better idea now of how we can build a mitigation plan," said Lowell Crow, the Freeport City Manager.

The city has set aside $85,000 in the upcoming budget to work toward mitigation on the east side.

"I just wish something could be done for anyone on the east side that would love to relocate. I wish the city and the state would just step up and try to help us," said Roby.

Stephenson County Chairman William Hadley signed a proclamation Monday so that the state can release state money to the area for assistance.

"We work with the FACC and they have a group of Mennonites that come in and they are going to be starting Friday to go in a start dewatering the homes that need to be and start working in the basements. Take advantage of the resources we have there and please let FACC know if you need to get your basement pumped out," said Crow.

A Salvation Army Emergency Disaster team from Iowa will be in Freeport for the week with cleaning supplies and assistance for anyone in need.

"When floodwaters come up it brings up a lot of contaminants and things like that and it can make people very sick and if they don't clean that up there are all kinds of dirtiness in that and filth with even touching, eating, smoking can get you infected with sickness so the clean-up supplies are very important," said Justin Womack, a member of the Salvation Army Emergency Disaster team from Davenport, Iowa.

Taylor Park Elementary School will be back open Wednesday.