State Of Emergency: Massive Rains Create Widespread Flooding
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UPDATED: 4/18/2013 – 3:33 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — An epic deluge swamped Chicagoland on Thursday, submerging neighborhoods across the area and prompting Gov. Quinn to declare a state of emergency.
“We are in a state of emergency in our state,” said Quinn, who added rivers across Illinois were at record flood stage.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle later issued a disaster proclamation for her county.
Nearly every suburb and the city was impacted by the flood, but some were hit harder than others.
The flooding shut down major expressways on Thursday morning, submerged hundreds of roads and homes and created havoc for residents across northeast Illinois. The Deep Tunnel flood control system was filled to capacity with 2.3 billion gallons of water, forcing officials to open the flood gates, sending storm water into Lake Michigan.
A flash flood warning was in effect for the entire Chicago area and Northwest Indiana through 8 p.m. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency for DuPage and Cook counties.
In Lake County, officials say the area will remain in moderate to major flood stage through next week barring more rain, WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports.
Three to six inches of rain fell on Wednesday and overnight. The storms today brought additional one to two inches of rain on Thursday morning, CBS 2′s Megan Glaros reports. An additional one to two inches could fall over the rest of today.
Flooding had closed the Edens, Eisenhower and Kennedy expressways. The inbound Bishop Ford was experiencing major backups with lanes closed. Other expressways had major delays.
In Chicago alone, as of 12:30 p.m., the city had fielded more than 1,200 calls of flooded basements, 425 calls of flooded streets, and 27 calls of flooded viaducts, according to Office of Emergency Management and Communications director Gary Schenkel.
“The Department of Water Management has been working tirelessly through the night, and into the morning, to address conditions throughout the city, and continue to work with various city departments and sister agencies to ensure public safety for residents and motorists,” he said.
On the South Side, a sinkhole swallowed three cars in the 9600 block of South Houston. Numerous streets and viaducts were under water.
To date, the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation has relocated 105 vehicles to remove them from flooded areas. Owners can call 3-1-1 to learn where their vehicles have been relocated. There are no fees, officials said.
Metra reported flooding on some tracks on Thursday morning. The CTA reports no significant delays on the L, but several buses are being rerouted due to flooded streets.
Many schools and businesses were closed and the only way to get though some neighborhoods was by boat.
States of emergency or disaster declarations have been called in Lombard, Des Plaines, Elmhurst, Schiller Park, River Grove, Gurnee, Des Plaines and Villa Park.
In Lombard, some homes are reporting water not only in their basements but on the first floor as well. A total of about 30 streets are totally submerged. Travel by car is nearly impossible and residents were urged to stay home.
“The only way to get around is by kayak or canoe,” one Lombard resident told CBS 2′s Susanna Song.
In Lisle, some residents had to be rescued by a large, military-style DuPage County Sheriff’s department truck.
In Gurnee, CBS 2′s Ed Curran reports the Des Plaines River is already at moderate flood stage and is could rise to severe flood stage this afternoon.
In Aurora, several major roads were closed, according to spokesman Dan Ferrelli.
Officials in Naperville reported flooding downtown.
The Chicago Department of Aviation says more than 600 flights were canceled at O’Hare International Airport due to severe weather, as of 3:30 p.m.. More than 30 were canceled at Midway International Airport.
The Des Plaines River was near or above flood stage in Gurnee, Lincolnshire, Des Plaines and Riverside. Water levels are expected to rise during the day.