DARLINGTON (WKOW) — The historic flooding that swamped parts of Darlington is expected to start receding Friday morning after the Pecatonica River crested Thursday night, according to forecasts.
“This one is more severe though,” said Darlington Police Chief Jason King as he remembered the two previous floods to the community within the past 12 months. “In fact, this flood now is the worst flood we’ve seen since 1993.”
Businesses on the end of Main Street from Ann Street to Alice street and beyond to the Pecatonica River were surrounded by water. The Casey’s General Store had water halfway up the building and gas pumps. Darlington Family Restaurant was also surrounded by swift rapids as the water flowed by.
“This is about as bad of a flood as I’ve ever seen,” said Dan Hemming, a resident in Darlington. “I’ve seen the water come up to the previous intersection down there. It’s just surprising and it’s as high as I’ve seen it.”
For much of the day in Darlington, you could see neighbors helping neighbors. Several people put up flood shields in front of businesses, trying to keep the water out. King said it’s all part of the community’s mitigation plan.
“These two blocks have been flood mitigated, so the businesses have been elevated. That means if it works the way its supposed to, the way they were engineered and designed, the impact on all of these businesses should be relatively minor,” said King.
He didn’t know the extent of the damage and said he would have a better idea once the water receded.
Some questioned if the flood water would be contaminated with gasoline from the flooded pumps at Casey’s General Store, but King was not worried about it due to preparations.
“There are pipes that when the water comes up like this, the gas station puts large pipes into their tank that goes well above the ground so the water cannot get into their tanks,” King explained. “They’ve been through this many times, too. They’re well-prepared.”
As the day went on, the water continued to rise. King expected the flood level to rise to 18 feet. As of 4:30 p.m., the flood level was at 17 feet.
Some cars were toed out of the floodwaters, while some sought higher grounds for the night.
The floodwaters are expected to start receding Friday morning, but major flooding will likely be seen in Darlington through Friday evening, according to the latest forecast models.
There were no reports of rescues or injuries due to the flooding, according to Chief King.