With a few more rain showers and even snow flurries predicted in the Chicago area Friday, rescue workers pulled stranded residents from their flood-damaged homes while Gov. Pat Quinn declared 38 counties state disaster areas.
Gov. Quinn’s office said flash flooding and rapidly rising rivers and streams in the area have damaged or destroyed homes and businesses, forcing evacuations and causing power outages and numerous road closures.
This week’s storm totaled 5.55 inches at O’Hare International Airport, helping to make the month the third wettest April since 1871, according to National Weather Service archivist Frank Wachowski.
As of Thursday, the month’s total was 7.83 inches. Small showers and tiny pellets of ice hit morning commuters Friday, bringing that amount closer to the 8.33 inch record set for April in 1947.
“There’s a good chance we’ll tie the record — and we’re pretty close to breaking it,” Wachowski said. “We’ve got showers predicted for late Sunday night and may see some more shower activity next week.”
After the widespread damage Thursday, reports of some trouble continued Friday morning.
In Forest View, part of the levy along the Des Plaines River broke near 46th Street and Harlem Avenue, inundating the small near west suburb.
With various parts of town in up to 4 feet of standing water and some cars almost completely submerged, police and fire teams are using boats to get to homes of stranded residents, said Larry Brouk, director of public safety.
“All night we’ve been watching the water rise and rescuing people from their homes, bringing them to safety,” said Brouk. “We have numerous surrounding fire and police departments on scene – we’ve been rescuing people all night and into the morning.”
“It’s hectic. We’re mostly making sure no one goes around barricades (near the river),” Brouk said, adding that there are no reported injuries.
In Lake County, areas that are threatened by possible levee breaches include North Libertyville Estates in Libertyville and parts of Lake in the Hills. Officials there have deployed 200,000 sandbags countywide and are seeking assistance in filling and providing materials for more sandbags.
Meanwhile, water levels along the Fox River are still going up, said Don Bryant, director of the Kane County Office of Emergency Management, who is seeking to have the area declared an emergency.
The river level was at 12 feet Friday morning just below the Algonquin dam, and expected to peak late Saturday at 13 feet, Bryant said. That would not set a record, but would cause widespread major flooding, comparable to 2008, the worst flood this century, he said.
In North Aurora, the water caused flooding at the village hall, while residents in South Elgin and East Dundee agreed to voluntarily evacuate their homes.
Some of the worst flooding continues to be on Tuscaloosa Street in Algonquin Shores on the west side of the river just south of downtown, where a number of homes along the river have flooded, officials said. On the east side of Fox River, Grove Avenue in Valley View — off Route 25 between Valley View and St. Charles — is also flooded.
“For the most part, I think everybody understands that this was a significant rain event,” Bryant said. “Especially the people along the river, you kind of expect at some point you're going to get wet, speaking as somebody who lives 50 yards from the Fox River.”
Elsewhere in the northern suburbs, residents are still nervously awaiting the crests of the Des Plaines River, which flooded neighboring communities throughout the collar counties.
The river remained in the “major” flood stage in River Forest, having surpassed the 18.5 foot depth. The river depth of the river about doubled between 4 p.m. Wednesday and 4 a.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
Residents rescued as rivers rise and levees break
Food victims from Hillside are evacuated to a community center in Des Plaines and aided by the Red Cross. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)