protect your docks

How to Protect Your Boat Docks from Flash Floods in Northern IL

With Flash Floods Hitting Chicagoland, How Do You Protect Your Docks?

This week, torrential rains swept through Northern Illinois. Flash floods hit many towns throughout the Chain O’Lakes and Chicago areas. Roads were closed, apartments evacuated, and more. As the floodwaters continued to travel down the Fox River, towns issued warnings to residents close to shore—but what about your boat docks?

Rising water levels, fast currents, and debris all can cause a lot of property damage. So, if you own shoreline property in the area, what should you do to minimize the damage to your pier?

For a primer on docks and piers, start with our FAQ!

What Happened in Northern Illinois?

This past Wednesday, July 11, 2017, storms and flash floods hit towns throughout Lake County, McHenry County, and Cook County. Here’s how different cities were affected:

  • Mundelein: The National Weather Service’s observers recorded 8-10 inches of flooding. Rescue crews evacuated residents from several apartment buildings using rafts. Roads and a Metra line were shut down.
  • Fox Lake, Lake Villa, Lake Bluff, and Round Lake Park: These towns experienced 4-8 inches of rain, with flooding and road closures in many areas.
  • Highland Park and Lake Forest: Major roads and intersections were closed here as well. Cars tried to drive through the floodwaters anyway and stalled out, so rescue crews had to come help.
  • Waukegan: Cars stalled out trying to drive through water here as well. The interim director stated that continued rain could lead to a repeat of 20 years ago, when similar conditions undercut a roadway and lifted it away.
  • Gurnee: The city issued an emergency flood response statement which included instructions on what residents should do to stay safe.
  • Riverwoods: Residents with docks along the Des Plaines River were instructed to watch out for floodwaters coming downstream later in the week. City officials supplied them with sandbags to help prepare.
  • Flash flood warnings remained in effect in Lake and McHenry counties, as well as Chicago, through Thursday afternoon.

How Do I Protect My Property in the Short-Term?

Here are the recommendations the Fox Waterway Agency issued in its Flood Prep List yesterday:

  • Remove your boat from the water if possible.
  • Make sure to secure your boat even if it’s on a boat lift.
  • Weigh your pier down with a garbage can full of water, some cinder blocks, or both.
  • If your boat lift has a canopy, leave a clearance of at least 3’ between it and the boat.
  • Place sandbags around your home.
  • Turn off any electric circuits you have outside or in your garden.
  • Clear away any loose floatable objects like kids toys or patio furniture from your yard.
  • If possible, keep a backup generator on hand.
  • Keep everyone, including adults, children, and pets away from water, especially close to the river, due to extremely powerful currents.
  • Make a last-minute evacuation plan just in case.

Follow these recommendations, keep an eye on your shoreline, and you should be able to weather the storm.

What Do I Do About My Docks Long-Term?

Despite the precautions, your pier might still get damaged. Rising water levels have left fixed docks underwater, while floating docks have been twisted upward trying to stay afloat. Debris travelling downstream has also impacted many piers, and there’s always the possibility of poorly-secured boats getting loose and wreaking all sorts of havoc.

If your docks have been damaged, you’ll need professional help to get it fixed. Keep in mind though that many of your neighbors throughout the Fox Waterway have suffered similar problems and service professionals may not be able to make it to your property right away. Make sure to tie your boat up and secure it as well as you can until someone can get out there, so you can mitigate the damage from any remaining debris or rainwater making its way downstream.

Then, give Captain Rod’s Boat Lift & Pier Services a call at (815) 759-9134. We’ve been installing and repairing boat lifts, seawalls, and docks in McHenry, IL and elsewhere in Northern IL for years, and will take care to get the job done right. Don’t let flooding ruin your boating season—contact us for repairs and maintenance today!