Updated 05/13/14 – 10:35 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Heavy rainfall from a series of thunderstorms that moved through the Chicago area on Monday and early Tuesday left several roads impassable, and many basements flooded, especially in the northern suburbs, where the rain was heaviest.
Flooding also prompted the closure of all elementary schools and middle schools in Lake Bluff School District 65. More than 4 inches of rain have fallen in Lake Bluff since Monday afternoon.
The National Weather Service flood warnings Tuesday for Lake County and north central Cook County, where up to 4 inches of rain fell from Monday afternoon through early Tuesday.
A flood warning was issued for the North Branch of the Chicago River at Albany Avenue from Tuesday afternoon through late Tuesday night. The river was expected to rise past flood stage at that location by Tuesday evening, but fall below flood stage again later Tuesday night.
The National Weather Service also issued a flood warning for the Des Plaines River near Des Plaines from Tuesday afternoon through Thursday morning.
Rain fell at rates of up to an inch per hour Monday night. North suburban Lake Bluff was inundated with slightly more than 4 inches of rain, as of 7 a.m., according to the National Weather Service; while Glencoe got nearly 3.6 inches, Woodstock got 3.1 inches, Lake Zurich got 2.5 inches, and Waukegan got slightly more than 2 inches. Chicago’s official total from the storm was nearly 2.1 inches of rain at O’hare International Airport. The village of Hebron in McHenry County got 3.8 inches of rain.
In Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, and North Chicago, a number of busy roads were underwater early Tuesday, leaving many drivers stranded until they could be rescued by emergency workers Monday night.
Skokie Highway was closed between Deerpath and Buckley roads, due to high water levels, leaving a line of trucks stranded, waiting for a flooded viaduct to dry out enough so they can pass.
Jeff Willoughby, a truck driver for A&M Express, was hauling a load of paper towels from Knoxville, Tennesee, to just north of the border in Wisconsin – less than 20 miles from where he’s now stranded until the road clears.
“We came across the first viaduct down there. It was about 3 or 4 foot deep, then we got up here, and it looks like it’s about 14 foot deep there,” Willoughby said. He got stuck on Skokie Highway around 7:30 p.m. Monday, and was still waiting in his truck 12 hours later.
However, the truckers decided they weren’t going to wait all day for the water to recede, so they backed up one-by-one, so they could turn around at an intersection behind them and find alternate routes to their destinations.
Several drivers got stranded in their cars under the viaduct overnight. Firefighters said at least six people had to be rescued from the viaduct.
The Great Lakes Motel at the corner of Skokie Highway and Buckley Road was forced to evacuate around 11 p.m. after water seeped into all the rooms.
A steady stream of rain water enveloped the motel, flooding the basement nearly 9 feet high.
“Everything down there’s destroyed,” said maintenance worker Bill Teifke. “Each of them have water in them. Each of them, all have water damage.”
He said part of the motel has concrete floors, so rooms in that section only will need to have carpets replaced, and maybe some trim. Another part of the motel, however, has a two-foot crawl space under wood floors, so he’s expecting major damage to the floors in that section.
Knollwood Fire Department Battalion Chief Erik Kositzki said water along Skokie Highway had not yet begun receding as of Tuesday morning. Emergency crews were stationed throughout the area to assist with traffic issues, and help any stranded homeowners or drivers.
In addition to the flooded roads, at least one homeowner in Lake Bluff was trapped in their home due to flooding.
In many neighborhoods in the northern suburbs, sewer systems and sump pumps simply couldn’t keep up with the heavy rain, leaving yards and basements inundated with water.
People in the North Chicago and Lake Bluff areas say they expect to spend weeks putting their lives back together.
“After 10 hours of work, I still got clean. In three days the mold is going to be there. So I gotta get it out of there,” said Michael Owens.
Neighbors at Strawberry Condominiums in North Chicago say when the floodwater began to inch its way up, they jumped on the cleanup. But Nate Simmons says, “Within the time it took me to go to Home Depot, I would say maybe 40 minutes tops, I came back and that was the picture I showed you where there was a foot of water.
Simmons is asking for local officials in north Chicago to come out and assess the damage.
Living along the North Branch of the Chicago River is one of the reasons north suburban Glenview is such an attractive place to live, but combine that with a major storm, and poor drainage in some parts of the town, and you get a whole lot of frustration from flooded-out residents.
Along the 600 block of Glenwood Lane, residents said the street floods every time there’s heavy rainfall. Starting Sunday, when rain started to fall in the Chicago area, water started to back up in yards along the block. It wasn’t long before it started to make its way inside homes.
By Monday, many homeowners had simply given up trying to keep it out.
“We don’t know what to do anymore. We’re at our wits’ end. We’ve replaced our furnace and water heater five times in the last 13 years. We’ve tried the flood insurance route, raising the window wells. Now I’ve got four pumps in my basement. We just don’t know what to do anymore. It’s just ridiculous,” Rob Berns said.
Even after the water finally recedes, the Berns family has other concerns. After replacing drywall and moving furniture back in, they have to worry about mold, which has created problems in the past.