Rockford Drainage System

By: Narina Crain
By: Narina Crain

Flood victims and government officials seem to agree on just one thing; it was only a matter of time before Keith Creek overflowed.

"Two primary things led to this disaster. One is a large amount of rain; the other is we're standing in the middle of a floodway, not a flood plain, but a floodway," Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey said.

Many of the flooded homes sit below the top of Keith Creek's walls. Officials say the creek simply can't handle the amount of rain we got on Monday.

"This drainage-way was built in the 1930's and it was designed probably for a 10 or 20-year storm. What we had is called a 100-year storm where it doesn't matter what kind of silt or debris we had in here. It was going to the top of the creek," said John Gessner of the Rockford Department of Public Works.

It took a natural disaster to bring attention to Keith Creek. Debris piled up for months, and just now after the flood city crews are cleaning it out.

"They need to do something to address the creek so it's cleaned out on a regular basis so it can carry a larger flow when we do have a big storm like this," said Guy Spinello, a concerned business owner.

Mayor Morrisey says clearing debris won't solve the problem. He wants the state and federal government to analyze and restructure the entire water drainage system.

"We can't make the call on our own as a city to start changing a major waterway. Army Corps of Engineers gets involved, state Department of Natural Resources gets involved."

Redesigning the waterway would take years and cost tens of millions of dollars.


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