Sunday, September 14, 2008

Geneva's Festival of the Vine- A Wash Out!

Well, the excitement of the Geneva Festival of the Vine was quickly dampened by the constant pummeling of rain. We were open the first day for the few brave and determined festival goers and sold the Tin Man art piece by Cherry Joy that Graced the Green Expo 2008. But, we knew it was over when one of our tents collapsed and broke in the middle of that night.

We hung up signs informing those who booked hotels for the weekend but ended up wondering around in what looked almost like an evacuated town ( thank God our flooding is no where near as severe as those around the Gulf ) looking for mums, pumpkins,trolley rides, horse & buggy, art, bee keepers, food, music and more.

This is the 3rd day of near constant rain, the Fox river has risen, retention ponds are overflowing and sewer caps are shooting up into the air with water gushing out of the drains. Craig and staff are breaking down our corner on James & 3rd as I type this story. I for one was looking forward to what I feel is the official welcoming of fall to Geneva, IL. But, there were no art tents, except ours and 1 other that was open that I could see. The gourd man set up his tower but was never to be seen. The bee man didn't get his hives in order- I was going to get a couple of his jars of fresh local honey. I will post photos of our wet corner later. This was in today's paper:


Flooding hits Kane County

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KANE COUNTY – Heavy rains smacked areas throughout the region Saturday, flooding several homes and streets in Kane County and spurring officials to activate emergency management teams.

Some communities reported nearly 8 inches of rainfall by Saturday afternoon, but the National Weather Service warned that more rain is on the way.

Stephen Rodriguez, with the weather service’s Chicago office, said remnants of Hurricane Ike are expected to surface today, bringing at least another inch or two of rain by this morning.

The Kane County Emergency Management Office reported that Saturday’s storm was the most serious rain event to hit the county since the 1996, when nearly 17 inches of rain flooded the county.

There is the potential for this weekend’s rain to be considered a 100-year flood, the county office noted, explaining that the term is given if up to 7.2 inches of rain fall in an area within a 24-hour period.

Saturday’s heavy and near constant rains prompted several municipalities to set up sandbagging sites. If the rains continue today, officials expect the sites will remain open.

In South Elgin, a fast paced assembly line of sandbagging was taking place at the village’s Public Works Department.

Vehicles backed up into the garage as employees and volunteers quickly tossed sandbags into trunks and motioned for the next resident to take their turn.

The city of St. Charles activated its Emergency Operations Center Saturday, after measuring more than 6 inches of rainfall and a rise in the Fox River that was deemed to be at least a foot over the flood stage.

Over in Geneva, rains put a damper on the city’s 27th annual Festival of the Vine. The food and wine tasting tent closed Saturday afternoon and vendors at the craft fair packed up early.

According to a volunteer, organizers are expected to meet early Sunday morning to decide whether Sunday’s predicted rains will cancel the event.

Charlie Roumeliotis, the owner of Mill Race Inn, which overlooks the Fox River and Island Park, said his gazebo was practically under water, but his facility was not facing serious threats of flooding.

More than 1,000 sandbags were distributed in St. Charles, several thousands in South Elgin and Don Bryant, the director of the Kane County Emergency Management Office, said his team gave out nearly 25,000 by early Saturday afternoon.

Members of South Elgin’s sophomore football team left their practice early and ditched their shoes and shirts to volunteer. Sophomore Derek Hurschman tried pumping up the team to shovel faster by leading the group in the school’s fight song.

And while volunteers were helping, many of those shoveling sand and tying bags were residents dealing with flooded basements or flooding threats.

Valerie Brancecum was tying sandbags to bring back to her Spring Avenue home. She said her basement had a few inches of water, but had equipment pumping the water out.

Her family just rebuilt their home after a fire destroyed it two years ago, she said. This is the second time since then that their home has flooded. But, many of her neighbor’s homes were worse, she said.

“It sure is amazing how the neighbors come together to help,” Brancecum said, as she scanned the garage that was filled with nearly three dozen wet and sandy people.

Retention ponds in the village’s Woodbridge South subdivision crept up to the backyards of nearby homes. A handful of children could be seen in swimsuits, diving into the several feet of accumulated rain water.

Many streets throughout the county were covered in a blanket of water, spurring officials to close them down and put up detour signs.

Police, fire and weather officials urged motorists not to drive through standing water. To be even safer, they recommended not driving unless necessary.

Over in St. Charles, members of the city’s emergency team put up yellow caution tape, blocking off the city’s parking lot by the Fox River. They also closed the Illinois Street bridge, which will remained closed until the water recedes.

A portion of Riverside Drive from St. Charles to Geneva was closed, as water seeped its way up to the street. Water could be seen bubbling out of street sewers.

During a temporary lull in the downpour, people could be seen walking near the river and driving their bicycles throughout the downtown area, stopping and pointing to the high river levels and debris floating in the river’s current.

Police departments across the county reported receiving a number of rain related phone calls, including stalled cars and residents concerned that the water level was reaching electric outlets and meters.

Mark Koenen, director of the St. Charles Public Works Department, said the city had power in most areas Saturday, but noted that the Jewel on Kirk Road was without power Saturday afternoon.

Until the water recedes and the store’s transformer is no longer under water, Koenen said he expects the store to be without power. He also said at least eight electric meters were removed as a safety precaution.

Bryant, with the county emergency team, said several homes in St. Charles’ Valley View subdivision, which is notorious for being hit hard by floods, had water covering their yards.

No weather related injuries had been reported as of Saturday evening.

In addition to sandbagging sites provided by local towns, Bryant said his team set up four locations.

He also said that South Elgin set up an emergency shelter at the village annex. Bryant said he heard there were about a dozen people taking shelter there.

“With the addition of Hurricane Ike’s rain tomorrow, we could see this event continue throughout the weekend,” Bryant said. “Those people who live close to drainage systems or close to the river need to stay aware of the level.”

Sunday events that have been or may be canceled:

- St. Charles’ “All Decked Out” party at the city’s parking garage is officially canceled.

- Geneva’s Festival of the Vine: Organizers are slated to meet Sunday morning to decide whether the event will take place.

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