The area spent Monday mopping up from the five inches of rain that fell on it between Friday and Sunday morning. In Shelby County, several people had to be rescued from floodwater. No injuries were reported.

The rainfall swelled Lake Sara.

“In my seven years, it’s the highest that it’s been from what I’ve noticed,” said Lake Sara Superintendent Mike Dirks.

Dirks said they had to retrieve four boats that had come loose from docks.

“The water got over our dock,” he said. “There are probably a few people with wet boathouses.”

Dirks said that by Monday, the water level had gone down over two feet. He expected the lake to reopen by Tuesday.

“We would like to have the water level below the seawalls before we open the lake back up,” Dirks said.

He noted that he had not heard of any basements flooding near the lake. Dirks attributes that to the fact that they require people to put their basement above the water line.

Effingham County Engineer Greg Koester said that county crews were out cleaning up minor stuff this week related to the flooding. “In terms of erosion, we won’t be able to see damage in the river bottoms until the river goes down,” he said.

“Effingham County has been fortunate that there’s not a lot of water that comes through even though we have flooding along the Little Wabash,” Koester said.

The Little Wabash River reached 21.45 feet over the weekend, exceeding its 16-foot flood stage before receding to about 12 feet by Monday evening. That is below its record of 24 feet, 3 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

Pamela Jacobs, Emergency Manager of the Effingham County Emergency Management Agency, said the Effingham County EMA was activated to a Level 3. A level 3 is monitoring the situation, information dissemination between agencies and standing by in case of a need for partial or full activation of the Emergency Operation Center. “Thankfully, we did not have to activate the EOC and there were no resources needed from our department,” she said.

Cowden was hit hard by rain that flooded streets and homes over the weekend.

“We got six inches of rain and it flooded the north end of town,” said Cowden Mayor Loren Barnes. “Some people had water under their homes and in them. I felt sorry for them. It took a while for it to work its way down the sewer.”

Barnes said that it was just too much rain at one time for what the sewers could handle and it took a while to recede.

“It started Friday night and it took until Saturday about 3 p.m. before it went down to where you could tell the difference,” Barnes said.

He gave credit to city workers, who were out trying to alleviate the problem and were fixing streets early Saturday morning in the rain.

“It is sad when we get that much rain and it floods the north end,” Barnes said. “By Saturday evening, the water was down where it was four or five feet from people’s homes.”

Barnes has been mayor for 15 years and has seen this situation before.

“Anytime we get over two inches of rain,” Barnes said. “The drainage is not as good as it could be. This was bad, but I have seen it worse.”

Barnes said several years ago the water was across the highway.

“It wasn’t as bad this time, but this was bad,” Barnes said.

Authorities said no injuries were reported in rescues overseen by the Shelby County Dive Team.

“Both of these were cases of people driving into flooded roadways,” reported Shelby County Dive Team Commander Austin Pritchard.

Pritchard said his team was first called out at about 5:30 p.m. on Friday to a call that an individual was trapped on top of a vehicle at 150 N Road, three miles east of Route 32.

“The person was rescued without incident, only cold and wet,” Pritchard said.

Terry Trueblood, Commander of the Effingham County Dive-Rescue Team said they were not called out to any rescues in Effingham County. They assisted Shelby County in Sigel.

“We try with the media to get out the message of ‘turn around don’t drown,’” Trueblood said.

Shelby County was also assisted by the Stewardson and Sigel fire districts, providing lighting for the operation. Shelby County Sheriff’s Department was also on the scene.

On Saturday night, the Shelby County Dive Team was called out again. Just before 6:30 p.m., they were requested to help seven individuals on 1000 E Road, just south of 2200 N Road.

“All seven were rescued with no injuries,” reported Pritchard. “Only cold and wet.”

Other agencies responding on Saturday were the Assumption Fire and Ambulance and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department.

The National Weather Service predicted Monday another strong storm system will affect the area Friday into Saturday. Early indications show a good chance of measurable snow early Friday, before warmer air changes the snow to rain across central Illinois. Effingham is forecasted to get more than 2 inches of liquid precipitation.


Crystal Reed is a reporter for the Effingham Daily News, covering towns in the eastern coverage area. She is a graduate of Richland Community College and Eastern Illinois University with degrees in journalism. She is originally from Decatur.

Recommended for you