EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Rising Illinois River levels are putting a stop to traditional Memorial Day Weekend plans for boaters.
The Coast Guard has closed the Illinois River from Chillicothe past Pekin.
No recreational boaters will be allowed on the river until levels are under 25 feet.
The river crested Friday at 27.9 feet according to Fon Du Lac Park District Director Mike Johnson. He says it could take at least a week to get the river back open.
“The big reason we shut it down at 27 feet is there’s a lot of folks and businesses that are flooded. If the boats are going by, they’re creating a lot of wake and that does a lot of damage to the facilities,” Johnson said.
Johnson says although the river may look calm, the current is very strong and can take someone down very quickly if they fall in.
“It’s not safe. There’s a lot of debris on the Illinois River right now and the current is very fast. It may look calm, but if you fall the river is going to take you down very quickly. We encourage everybody this weekend, stay at the docks, enjoy yourselves, but don’t be out on the river,” Johnson said.
Carl Spindler Marina in East Peoria is completely flooded.
Johnson says once the water leaves facilities along the river, it’ll take at least 30 days to get them reopened due bacteria in the facility, chemicals, and other hazardous materials.
Johnson says COVID-19 has placed additional challenges for his department. Most of his districts’ facilities have been shut down due to the pandemic.
Johnson’s team will be doing patrols over Memorial Day Weekend in case boaters do decide to go out on the water. He says if there is an emergency situation and you absolutely have to get your boat across the river, you can call the Coast Guard in St. Louis on channel 16 or call their landline, tell them what you’re doing, and they can decide if they will give you permission to cross.
Johnson and his marine law enforcement crew responded to the car crash Thursday night on Collins Ln.