Car, air travel complicated by storms

July 23, 2011 (CHICAGO)

There was so much rain at O'Hare, plows and snow removers were called into service. The downpour left the Interstate 190 exit to the airport and several roads around O'Hare impassable.

For airline worker Margaret Termini, getting to work this morning became a four-hour ordeal.

"There is no street that we can go down. Every street is flooded, stuck. People pulled over," Termini said.

Officials say, at one point, parts of the Dan Ryan, Edens, and Eisenhower expressways were all shut down. The Ryan was temporarily closed in both directions near 87th after several vehicles got stuck.

Several viewers sent ABC7 viewers their images and videos to show just how high the water was around 4 a.m. Saturday. One video shows what it was like behind the wheel as sheets of rain came down. "Some people were literally swimming out of cars. And in other cases, we waded in with the fire crews and got people out of their cars," said Larry Langford, Chicago Fire Department.

On Route 53 near Thorndale in Elk Grove Village, drivers tried to wait out the rain under an overpass.

In west suburban Bellwood, ABC7's cameras captured one driver stopped at the flooded intersection of Mannheim Road and St. Charles. He tried to back up, but when the car stalled, he got out and signaled for help. Eventually, he and his passenger have to leave the car and walk through the rain.

"We had numerous vehicles that were submerged in the water, so we spent a lot of the morning trying to get those vehicles out and getting out those drivers safely," said Lt. Luis Gutierrez, Illinois State Police.

The storm knocked out power to tens of thousands of customers. In west suburban Brookfield, one worker had to cut a tree to get it off power lines. Afterward, he raised his arms in triumph.

Illinois State Police and the Chicago Fire Department were not able to tell us how many people were rescued from their vehicles, but they say it was easily several dozen.

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