Ice jams causing trouble along Kankakee River

January 28, 2008 4:24:11 PM PST
Despite Monday's mild temperatures, ice jams are still causing problems along the Kankakee River. The threat of flooding is still a concern in the Wilmington area.

The massive ice jam started last weekend and has not budged. Even a slight movement in the ice could lead to significant flash flooding. Residents along the river are ready to move if necessary.

"We've got everything up, bags packed, in case. But I don't see it going in a big rush. Hopefully it's nice and slow and gets on down the river where it belongs," said Phil Cassman, resident.

While the river is down a couple feet over the last few days, there are still several residents flooded out of their homes. The melting snow combined with our current rains could be good news for some but bad for others.

"When the ice does start to move, it could jam further downstream and result in flash floodings. You could see several feet rising in minutes," said Bill Morris, NWS hydrologist.

Numerous homes could be inundated with water in less than an hour. This can be especially dangerous to motorists.

"Last week we pulled several people out of the water. I know you say it every time, don't drive through it, but people still do it. It's not worth it. The water is so cold," said Dennis Housman, Wilmington Emergency Services.

"This is the worst ice jam in this part of the river since 1985 and it might not completely break up for several weeks," said Morris.

The good side is that the river has fallen a good 3 or 4 feet since late last week. The water has retreated in most locations back within its banks. But the slightest shift and you could create a worse ice jam downstream that could cause all sorts of problems.