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06-16-04 Sandbaggers prevail this time in Rockford

By Timothy Cox

  ROCKFORD -- For some village residents, the past weekend was an unwelcome reminder of last summer's epic flooding.

  Heavy rains last weekend resulted in water running over West Market Street and threatening a home on the corner of Columbia and Oak streets, officials said. Mayor Bob King estimated that 5 or 6 inches of rain fell in a two-day period. By Saturday morning, a volunteer sandbagging effort had been launched to try to keep the water from overrunning residents' properties.
  "The game plan was a lot fresher in everyone's mind," Police Chief Paul May said, referring to last summer's flood. "We had 15 or 20 citizens who just showed up to help."
  May estimates the volunteers filled and placed about 750 sandbags.
  "All we did was slow it down. We couldn't really stop it," May said.  Council member Randy Gutierrez at a Tuesday night council meeting thanked the village employees, police officers, volunteer firefighters and others who helped with the flood relief effort.
  With a flood watch in effect today and showers and thunderstorms forecast for the next few days, officials said the sandbags will remain in place for now as an emergency precaution. The water subsided just a few hours after the sandbagging effort began.
  Village officials talked about potential fixes to the Market Street flooding, which has now reared its head two straight years and in three of the past 12. Part of the problem is that a ditch along one side of the road has slowly been filled in by nature and by man through the years. Market Street becomes Rockford West Road outside the village.
  Village utilities technician Tom Beahrs said a retention pond likely would be needed to completely eliminate flooding in the area. However, the land where the pond would be needed is on private property outside the village, Beahrs said. It also would take a large pond -- possibly 5 acres or more -- Beahrs said, to adequately drain the area.
  "I'd hate to hear the price on that," council member Eugene Steiner said.


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