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Watseka eyes relief, flood waters receding

Caution is still the word for Watseka residents and anyone traveling through town. Flooded streets are still the norm, but there is improvement and flood waters have back off.

Mayor Bob Harwood said the city remains in a state of emergency. The Iroquois County Board officially filed a disaster declaration Tuesday. And the hope now is that the state will step in and provide relief help.

Sugar Creek and the Iroquois River dropped five and three inches overnight. It's a slow process. Mayor Harwood urges patience and also thanks residents and asks to continue observing the curfew daily (10 PM 'TIL 6 AM). It's all about safety.

Watseka public works personnel are monitoring water levels. The number of evacuees has reached around 130. The fire department was called out again today for two more adults on the north side of town.

At least 104 homes are affected, according to Iroquois County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Eric Ceci, and 60 square blocks of the city are affected by the flood.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency toured the city Tuesday. Harwood said a city clean-up and recovery plan will be in place by the end of the week.

"I want to thank everyone in town for their patience and I hope they continue to be patient," Harwood said. "We know in a situation like this patience can run thin."
Harwood also expressed his gratitude to the many fire departments providing mutual aid. He said "it's outstanding," that's what this is all about.

94.1 WGFA

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Disaster Declaration in Iroquois County

City of Watseka officials have turned to county leaders and the state for help in dealing with the flood that's now affected over 100 homes and 60 square blocks of the community.

The Iroquois County Board (Tuesday) followed up Watseka Mayor Bob Harwood's disaster declaration. Board Chairman Kyle Anderson signed off on a disaster declaration, which it's hoped will bring state resources to the community for help.

The county declaration is required for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to step in and begin the process of getting Governor Bruce Rauner's involvement.

Mayor Harwood said "the city's response plan was most-fitting" and the earlier-announced emergency plan has unfolded with response teams on the same page. The city's resources are growing then and the state help, Harwood said, would be most welcome.

IEMA officials were in town Tuesday and the review process is getting underway for damage assessments and clean-up once the waters recede.

A Watseka press release issued about midday Tuesday indicated overnight rains from Monday and Tuesday stirred up new concerns for the levels on Sugar Creek and the Iroquois River.

The American Red Cross has housed up to 60 people at an emergency shelter operated by the agency volunteers at the Trinity Church on east Walnut Street.

94.1 WGFA

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Watseka braces, hopes for better weather

Watseka Mayor Bob Harwood was expected to meet with Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) officials to find out just what kind of help might be available from the state. Floodwaters were still rising. And today (Tues) more flooded sites surfaced that were not under water Monday.

The Iroquois River and Sugar Creek flood waters are threatening to make it worse than the record 2008 flood.

A Red Cross volunteer said about 50-55 evacuees have been housed at the shelter at the Trinity Church in Watseka. Scattered rain showers yet today and tonight could find the rising waters continuing.

Mayor Harwood said citizens needing help leaving their homes can contact 911 and the Watseka Fire department will respond.

Harwood said the big difference between now and 2008 flood is the January-February weather......

The city declared a local disaster Monday. IEMA plans to tour the city today to determine what assistance the state might provide.

Harwood said all city departments will remain open 24 hours per day and a citywide curfew has been set in place between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. until next Monday.

The curfew is intended to keep residents out of the water during darkness and to protect the property of evacuated homes. Police will be on boat patrols during the evening hours. There was one arrest on Monday evening for a truck driver who drove through a barricade.

94.1 WGFA

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Kathryn Weiss crowned Punkin' Vine Queen

17-year-old Kathryn Weiss is the new queen of the Punkin Vine Fair in Newton County.  The daughter of Kyle and Karen Weiss of Brook was crowned Monday night.  Kathruyn follows up a tradition in that her sister was the fair queen in 2011.

The pageant, aired on 94.1 WGFA, was moved to the Trinity United Methodist Church in Kentland due to threatening weather.

First runnerup was Michela Rieck of Kentland.  Mackenzie Varnado of Morocco was named 2nd runnerup.  Miss Teen and Miss Congeniality was Chyenne Deno of Brook.

The Cole Swindell Concert is the fair highlight for Tuesday evening.

94.1 WGFA



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Iroquois County Fair all set, despite rain & flood

The Iroquois County Fair Board (Monday) decided to move forward with this year's 4-H and Agricultural Fair. The decision came after serious discussion to consider cancelling due to the rain, flood that left soggy conditions at the fairground.

One disappointing decision is that there will not be any RV camping at the Crescent City grounds. All other 4-H activities will go as planned.
Parking may be a challenge. The grounds are extremely wet. The carnival set-up is also being challenged for Swyear Amusements.The five-day of the fair begins Wednesday with the Queen pageant and the parade of 4-H clubs at the grandstand.

94.1 WGFA