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Heavy storm causes flooding in Sterling, Rock Falls

STERLING – It rained almost an inch in the Sterling-Rock Falls area in a matter of 40 minutes Monday night, according to the National Weather Service.

That rainfall (and hail in parts of the county) resulted in flooded streets, clogged drains, and – at the new Coliseum in Sterling – overflowing toilets.

Rick Powers, superintendent of the Sterling Public Works Department, said his crews were running around town Monday night, setting up road blocks at flooded intersections.

Some of the most heavily flooded intersections saw as much as a couple of feet of water, Powers said, and the First Street bridge had to be closed from 9 to 10 p.m. because of how badly the viaduct flooded. It was so bad, in fact, that a car was stranded in the deep water; no injuries were reported from the incident.

Powers said even though Sterling installed a new storm line a few years ago, and the drainage is much better than it used to be, when rain falls as hard and fast as it did Monday night, the drains can't handle it.

SBM Business Equipment Center, at the northwest corner of Locust and Fifth streets, sits on one of the worst intersections. Tuesday morning, workers saw evidence of water and debris almost 6 feet up on the windows – likely from the wake made by passing cars.

"People don't realize that when they blow their grass clippings into the the street, it goes into the catch basins and plugs them up," Powers said.

That, plus mulch and other debris, contribute to clogging storm drains.

In Rock Falls, police had to block off the intersection of First Avenue and 10th Street, because two cars were stranded in deep water. They also blocked off the 600 block of First Avenue, near Pizza Hut, because another car was stranded in water.

Police Chief Mike Kuelper said his department received calls about many large tree branches down and a couple of power outages in the area.

The Dixon streetscape project wasn't affected much by the rain.

Crews were working on landscaping this morning, and concrete pouring is expected to happen this afternoon, Commissioner Jeff Kuhn said. Sand and gravel in downtown helped with drainage, he said.

The Lyle Lovett concert on the Dixon riverfront was canceled Monday night, but organizers said they were working to reschedule it, so fans should hold on to tickets.

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