Chicago Weather: Flooding, potholes creating problems on roads across area

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and Liz Nagy
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 11:09PM
Flooding was so severe in south suburban Ford Heights, even the mayor's house was affected Tuesday night.

CHICAGO - Heavy rain and melting snow lead to flooding throughout the Chicago area Tuesday, particularly in the southwest suburbs. Meanwhile, potholes created problems on roadways.

ABC7 Meteorologist Cheryl Scott said a period of freezing rain, sleet and snow was expected until about 7 a.m. and up to a tenth of an inch of ice could create a glaze on area roads and bridges, making travel dangerous.

A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for DeKalb, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle and Lee counties until 3 a.m. Wednesday and Cook, DuPage, Kankakee, Lake and Will counties in Illinois until 6 a.m.

A Winter Weather Advisory is also in effect for Jasper, Lake, Newton and Porter counties in Indiana until 9 a.m.

A Flood Warning is in effect for parts of Chicago area for urban areas and small streams until 10:45 a.m. Wednesday.


Flooding was so severe in south suburban Ford Heights, even the mayor's house was affected Tuesday night. Much of one subdivision was underwater as water from Deer Creek spilled onto streets.

In the Golden Meadows subdivision, just north of Lincoln Highway, some residents have needed to be rescued by boat Tuesday night.

Ford Heights Mayor Annie Coulter said at least 100 homes have been impacted.

"The trouble began around 2 p.m. Everyone on Lincoln Highway, from Lincoln Highway on back, the creek over flooded. So everyone can't even get out of their house. People have been stranded, asking for boats," said Ford Heights resident Antonio Washington.

Antonio Washington said his house and several others on his block have water in the basements.


At least seven residents needed to be rescued by boat.

Drone video footage showed what the area looked like Tuesday afternoon.

"It's rised up real fast and started raining some more real hard. It was like big chaos here all day," said Ford Heights resident Willie Sawyer.

Throughout the south suburbs, a similar story, where water overflowed from wetlands along Southwest Highway in Orland Park, impacting several businesses.

Back in Ford Heights, where the water seems to be rising even the mayor's home is taking in water.

"I hope we can make it through the night because the rain is still coming, and there's going to be more flooding," said Ford Heights Mayor Annie Coulter.

The mayor said it's been almost 20 years since this subdivision has flooded like this. The flooding has forced District 169 schools to close Wednesday.


The LaSalle County Nursing Home in Ottawa was evacuated Tuesday evening because of the risk of flooding.

Ottawa nursing home evacuated due to flood risk

One by one they were carefully wheeled out. Through the pouring rain firefighters personally escorted four dozen senior citizens onto waiting buses.

"The risk is you can't get in, you can't get out," said LaSalle County Nursing Home Administrator Chris Csernus.

Freda Robinson sat and watched the water rise outside her window.

"I said 'I don't know about this' the guy said 'oh it's never gotten in the building,'" said resident Freda Robinson.

But by mid-afternoon, residents were told to evacuate.

"I just called Brenda and I said 'we're moving!'" said Robinson.

At 96 years old, Robinson has been moved out before.

Just a week shy of a year ago a tornado tore through the tiny town forcing everyone out in a mad rush.

"Stomach started churning and I wasn't the only one," said Csernus.

This time the evacuation is calmer, and less daunting.

Residents at LaSalle County Nursing Home will once again have to spend at least two to three days at other facilities. When they can return back here all depends on when the Illinois River level drops back down to something closer to normal.


Flood waters rise in NW Indiana

The Boone Grove Fire Department in Indiana had to rescue some drivers who got stuck in standing water. Fire officials warned people not to drive through roads with standing water.

In another incident, the Porter County Sheriff said an elderly woman was trapped in her car. When rescuers arrived, a neighbor was using his canoe to get her out safely.

In Hammond, crews were sandbagging along the Little Calumet River to hold back the swollen waters.

The Munster police department said they closed the Northcote Avenue Bridge over the Little Calumet River connecting Hammond and Munster due to rising water. They anticipate the bridge being closed through Thursday morning, but it could remain closed through the weekend depending on conditions.

Orland Park police said Southwest Highway is closed between 131st and 135th as well as 143rd Street between Creek Crossing Drive and Wolf Road due to flooding. In Matteson, flooding has closed Governor's Highway between 212th and 219th streets. Heavy rains have also led to flooded roadways in Naperville and Romeoville.

In west suburban Riverside, rainfall caused problems near the Des Plaines River.

"We were concerned about the river level. Our fire chief is also our emergency management director and he was monitoring that very closely," said Riverside Village Manager Jessica Frances.

Burr Ridge police said that as of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, high standing water had closed 79th Street between Drew Avenue and Hamilton Avenue; Drew Avenue between 79th and 80th Street; and Sedgley Court.

The Illinois Department of Transportation announced that a lane closure is underway on the inbound Eisenhower Expressway at Cicero Avenue. The closure is necessary due to flooding caused by a collapsed sewer inside the Chicago Transit Authority's Blue Line. The left shoulder and left lane are closed.


Axel-cracking potholes have been popping up all over the Chicago area. The freeze-thaw pattern has taken its toll on the roads and created plenty of them. Many drivers have already dealt with bumpy rides.

Pothole problems popping up

"I've been hit with $800 worth of tire damage because you'll run into one of these things, you'll get a nice dent in your side wall and that's pretty much the end of it," said motorist Arjun Chakravarti.

One at Halsted and Willow streets looks like a small pond and one stretch of Clark Street near Lawrence Avenue has crater after crater.

"What I'm worried about is like having an accident that's my biggest fear cause a pothole shook my car to the point where it threw it off," said motorist Leslie Isaac.

Even the ABC7 Stormtracker experienced pothole problems, hitting one on Southwest Highway in the south suburbs. The pothole was underneath standing water.

A huge pothole in the southbound lanes of I-55 near First Avenue flattened tires. At least 10 cars hit it, one after the other, forcing state police to shut down the road to clear the accidents and let crews fix the pavement.

"I was just driving up the middle lane and I caught a flat, there is a big pothole over there. It's a really big problem," said Ahmad. "I was okay because there wasn't too many cars around me. I was one of the first cars, there was probably two when I got over there. They just all started piling up over there."

From snow to rain, freezing to 60 degree temperatures, the area is riding a rollercoaster freeze-thaw cycle that can make the pothole problem worse.

"They come up on you. It's hard to spot 'em before you're right in the middle of them and I have hit two or three that are really quite intense," said motorists Brawley Reishman.

Drivers have to swerve to avoid a big gap or hit it head on.

"I just drive with caution on the street. I try not to be too distracted and focus on the road and kind of follow the flow of all the rest of the traffic," said motorist Meg Stark.

A city spokesperson said in a statement:
"In Chicago, hundreds of potholes have been patched in the last seven days, according to the city's website.

For December and January, the pothole numbers had been relatively low compared to previous years. However, with the recent snow events, we do anticipate an uptick in pothole activity. This year there have been just under 40,000 potholes filled and so far we've been able to fill them in an average of two days for street potholes and three days for alley potholes, well ahead of our goal of filling street potholes within seven days and alley potholes in fewer than 10 days. Last year CDOT filled almost 57,000 potholes in January.

With the recent snow and rain events, we do anticipate an uptick in pothole activity. CDOT will have approximately 30 pothole crews out daily working throughout the City. Residents are encouraged to report potholes by calling 311, or report the pothole online (where you can submit a picture)


The heavy rain has homeowners watching basements and attics closely.

Heavy rain could cause basement seepage, leaky roofs

With all this moisture from melting snow and pouring rain, some of it is seeping into area homes.

All of the heavy rain has pushed many area rivers and creeks well above flood stage.

While most don't live right next to these waterways, that doesn't mean we aren't affected.

"I have had sump pump calls, flooded basements, seepage problems," said Jim Weiberg with Clearflow Plumbing.

There are relatively easy steps to take to prevent a home serious flooding.

"I know a lot of people don't check their pumps every day, but with the spring coming, they should a little more often, you know, maybe once every couple of weeks. Maybe put alarms around the pit or if you do get any water, they will make a beeping sound," said Weiberg.

But not all water that gets into homes is entering through the basement. There are also a lot of leaky roofs.

"Got quite an upsurge actually. You know, small leaks become large leaks and lot of people have small leaks they're not even aware of that don't make it past the insulation in the attic, and when you get an event like this, it's inside," said Scott Owen with Owen Enterprises, Inc.

With the rain and thunderstorms continuing through much of the day, it's making it difficult to do the necessary repairs.

"We can't send people when there is a threat of lightning. We don't want to get anyone injured, but otherwise we do emergency services, we tarp, we do whatever we can to help people out," said Owen.

If you notice water damage on your walls, put a hole in the drywall because you don't want it sitting there creating mold and rot.
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