Floodwater covers nearly 45,000 acres in northern Illinois

IFB president discusses history Midwest flooding in-studio; FB starts relief fund in Nebraska.

Unharvested crops from last year inundated by floodwaters in Stephenson County. (Photos by Steve Fricke)

By Daniel Grant

Farmers living near rivers and tributaries are used to spring flooding.

But for those at opposite ends of Illinois, from north to south, flooding in some of those areas got off to an historic start this year. And it’s even worse to the west.

“We’ve had some significant flooding,” Steve Fricke, president of Stephenson County Farm Bureau, told FarmWeek.

“We know this happens at spring, but in the Freeport area they’re saying (the severity of the flooding) is similar to 1933,” he noted. “I have one farm that’s 3 feet underwater.”

Flooding along the Pecatonica River in northern Illinois forced the evacuation of nearly 200 people in Freeport last week. Fricke said conversations with USDA and the Natural Resources Conservation Service indicate 40,000 to 45,000 acres of farmland were underwater in northern Illinois last week.

A flooded farm field in Stephenson County.

Elsewhere, the Rock River surrounded the town of Roscoe and the Kishwaukee River was out of its banks in the north, while the Ohio River and its tributaries inundated parts of deep southern Illinois, including locations near Metropolis and Cairo, in the past month.

Flooding along the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois Rivers could intensify this month as runoff from melting snow in the northern Corn Belt makes its way downstream.

The situation developed from a wet fall followed by a cold, wet winter. Heavy rains and recent melting of the snowpack then created large amounts of water runoff as wet, frozen soils lacked absorption capacity.

Precipitation totals exceeded the statewide average in Illinois each of the past six months, which included the 19th wettest September and 15th wettest February on record, according to the Illinois State Water Survey.

And, so far this month, precipitation totals ranged from 2 to 4 inches across much of the state, with heavier totals in the south.


“Our biggest concern this year is we’re coming into spring from a very wet fall,” Fricke said. “Our soils don’t have the ability to take in any moisture. It’s going to take longer for our soils to dry out.”

The worst flooding situation remains west of the Mississippi River in Iowa and Nebraska. A state of emergency was declared in 74 cities, 65 counties and four tribal areas in Nebraska last week and in 41 counties in Iowa due to extreme flooding.

Video: Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert, Jr. discusses historic flooding across the Midwest, including Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri, as well as flooding in Southern Illinois.

Entire towns were evacuated and at least four people died due to the flooding in Nebraska. Early estimates suggest livestock losses could total nearly a half-billion dollars there.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau subsequently launched relief efforts to aid farmers and rural communities impacted by the natural disasters.

Those efforts include a disaster relief fund and online Agriculture Disaster Exchange which farmers can use to seek or donate hay, equipment or services, including help removing debris.

“Many of our friends and neighbors across the state are suffering,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president. “We want to do what we can to help. We believe our relief fund and information exchange can be of assistance.”

Both can be accessed at nefb.org/disaster.     

Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.