Surviving the Flood of 2013

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Once again, we’re thankful – and also proud – that Heritage Harbor survived a second record-setting flood without major damage or safety concerns. Our hearts do go out to the many homeowners, businesses and towns along the river who were not as fortunate. We’ll be looking to help them any way we’re able in the coming days and weeks.

We’ve never seen the Illinois River rise so quickly. We knew by Wednesday that we’d likely face some flooding in the coming days, but had no idea that we’d already be 6-7 feet over normal by the time we came to work on Thursday morning. By the time the river crested at about midnight on Friday, it was close to 16 feet over normal.

We of course kept a close watch throughout, and took all the precautions we could…and finally saw the water starting to recede slowly by about 6am Saturday. We switched into recovery mode, rallied our cleanup team, and enjoyed seeing many of our guests on Saturday afternoon! Tracy’s Boat House was open, and except for the water still being high, things quickly looked close to normal again.

We are blessed that we came through this flood so well; Mother Nature can always be unpredictable. But we’re also extremely proud of the planning we did beforehand; it certainly paid off! Before we constructed the harbor, we (and many experts) designed everything to withstand (or remain above) the 100-year floodplain, with room to spare. We’re pleased that our marina infrastructure withstood record flooding, now for the second time, exactly as it was designed to do. In case you’re wondering, some of these original design elements included:

  • Location of all home sites and other permanent buildings above the floodplain.
  • Construction of the marina basin such that it will remain segregated from river current at flood levels well in excess of the floodplain, along with seawalls and upland berms that will maintain integrity in these situations.
  • Dock piling or “spud poles” that are long enough to maintain the dock structures in place at flood levels well in excess of the floodplain. These poles are attached with extended piling sleeves that not only stretch the flood range of the spud poles even further, but also maintain structural resistance to dock movement in both normal and high-water situations. The quantity and placement of these spud poles and sleeves are designed to resist lateral forces of current and wind – and stay in place – even when the docks are fully loaded with boats.
  • Dock walkways that are pinned at one end and slide at the other, so that they stay in place as the docks move up and down, even at water levels well above the floodplain.
  • A robust electrical system on the docks that allows power to be safely maintained in flood situations – meaning that bilge systems in the boats can remain in operation indefinitely throughout floods and the heavy rains that typically accompany them.
  • A commercial-grade launch ramp that remains usable in moderate flood situations, and for that matter, low-water situations as well.
  • High placement of our travel-lift well, such that it also can remain usable in moderate (appx. 7′ over normal) flood situations.

And of course, our marina facility is managed year-round by professionals with deep experience in marina operations, and staffed by a crew that is second-to-none when it comes to safety, security, professionalism and courtesy. We sincerely thank them for a job very well done this past week.

And thanks, as always, to our homeowners, boaters, and all of our guests for being a part of the Heritage Harbor family. We’re sincerely glad that this flood is, for the most part, already behind us, so that we can get right back to enjoying Heritage Harbor and boating on the Illinois Waterway!

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