Illinois River On The Rise Again

Thursday, April 10th 2008, 10:12 pm
By: News On 6

The Illinois River isn't expected to crest until Friday night.  But the area has already flooded once in the last month.  A News On 6 crew took a boat tour of an area near Flint Creek and the Illinois River that's already underwater.

The News On 6's Ashli Sims reports a long time resident of Flint Creek says watching the river rise is like a slow death.  It takes 12 hours for it to come and unless you're an old hand, you don't want to be around when it does.

"They call me the old river rat," said Cruce Lansford.

As a river rat, Lansford has seen the old Illinois River at her best and her worst.

"Had to go up about five miles up the river and rescue some ol' boys who turned a canoe over. I told them 82-years-old is too old for this dang-blad fun," said Lansford.

He says he's used to her getting too big for her banks, but it's not often she overwhelms his little neighborhood twice in less than a month.

"I was in Florida the last time; it was one of the few that I missed. I been in em since '73, '90, and everywhere," said Lansford.

Last month, the river climbed halfway up the Lansford's windows, leaving him and his wife with 18 inches of water inside their home.

Once again the roads are washed out, homes are flooded, high winds have taken out trees and most have left for higher ground.

"I had to get a lady and her dog outta that house this morning, a while ago, she was still in there," said Lansford. "People just don't realize how dangerous these floods are."

Lansford says most of the folks who live around the river are used to the floods and even have a sense of humor about them. He says you put up what you can and when the water recedes you move on.

"Then you go in take a water hose or a washer wash it all out chock back, suck it up, move back in and  go to garage sale and hunt some new furniture," said Lansford.

Despite his neighborhood being transformed into a lake, Lansford says he can still find beauty in it all.

"Oh job said ‘the lord giveth and the lord taketh away,' blessed be the name o' the lord and that's about how you gotta look at it," said Lansford.

This river rat says he's been half way around the world and there's no place he'd rather live.

Flint Creek has crested, but the Illinois hasn't.  And residents say based on the last flood, it could rise another 10 feet before it's all over.

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