Flood concerns continue as Des Plaines River rises

GURNEE, Ill. (WLS) -- The rain has ended, but the water is still rising in the north suburbs. Flooding problems in the next few days could be very dangerous.

Officials in Lake County, Ill., declared a state of emergency due to severe flooding.

Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor signed a proclamation late Wednesday night that said flooding created a disaster in the county. It was sent to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

A spokesperson from IEMA responded Thursday afternoon, saying, "Our regional coordinators have been in contact with emergency managers in the impacted areas to ensure they get any state resources needed. Dir. Joseph also has personally talked with the Lake County Emergency Management Agency director earlier today. So far, the only request we've had was for 100,000 sandbags for Lake County, which we coordinated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from their inventory in Wheaton. But as always, we stand ready (to) expedite any resources or assets they need for public health and safety."

Lawlor said county officials will coordinate with local authorities to get help to people who need it. He also asked the public to watch for updated on Lake County's Facebook page.


In Gurnee, the Des Plaines River had reached 10.94 ft. by 10:15 a.m., the National Weather Service said. The record level in Gurnee is 11.9 ft., which was set on Sept. 27, 1986. The river is expected to crest at 12 ft. sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning.

Buildings and businesses were surrounded by sandbag fortresses Thursday. Mitze Jikomis hoped the bags will be enough to save her home from the rising waters.

"We have some water seeping into the basement and now outside is also reaching to the house. We have to make sure we put a whole lot of sandbags," she said.

The mother of three's house is in a subdivision along McClure Avenue which is being threatened as the river continues to rise. About 100 homes and 16 businesses have been affected by floodwaters, according to village officials.

Marlene Lopez and her 11-year-old son Andreas were among those volunteering to help out by filling sandbags at Warren High School, as residents hope their efforts will be enough against the floodwaters.

"I was here in the 2004 flood and the '86 flood. They're saying this one is supposed to be worse," said Shelley Cook, who lives in Gurnee.

There are no mandatory evacuations yet, but Kristy O'Brien left her home Wednesday and said it was already taking on some water.

"I just wish it would crest sooner than later. I want to get in there and start the cleaning up and assess the damage," she said.

PHOTOS: Flooding, storm damage in north suburbs

Chopper 7HD flew over a sinkhole in Gurnee Thursday morning. A section of Gages Lake Road collapsed just east of Leonard Drive after a culvert was washed out by floodwater, Lake County officials said. Luckily, Lake County Department of Transportation crews observed that the culvert was in distress and closed Gages Lake Road between Hunt Club Road and Route 21 before the pavement crumbled. A fence was put up around the hole to keep people safe.

The culvert will need to be replaced and the road repaired before the closure can be lifted, officials said. As a detour, drivers can take Hunt Club Road south to Route 120 to get to Route 21.

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Chopper 7HD flew over a sinkhole Thursday that formed on Gages Lake Road near Leonard in north suburban Gurnee.

Also in Gurnee, Six Flags Great America is expected to be open Thursday. The theme park closed Wednesday afternoon because of flooding in the area.

A tree came down in the 1800-block of Sunnyside Avenue in Highland Park. There are $2-5 million homes in the area. Power lines were also seen smoking nearby.
The Des Plaines River reached a new record high Thursday in Lincolnshire, the weather service said.

The previous record in Lincolnshire of 16.36 ft. was set on April 19, 2013. The river reached 16.53 ft. before 7:15 a.m. The river is expected to reach 17.5 ft. in Lincolnshire sometime between Friday evening and Saturday morning.

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The Des Plaines River reached a new record high Thursday in Lincolnshire, the weather service said.

Voluntary evacuations were underway late Thursday morning in Lincolnshire as the Des Plaines River levels climbed and residential property flooded.

Floodwater moved in 150 into Alex and Jessica Black's backyard. They saw fish swimming where their patio furniture used to be.

"This was all dry as of 2 o'clock yesterday. After about two hours the water started rushing in and it hasn't stopped," Alex Black said.

"Our yard is completely covered in water. All of our patio furniture is underwater," Jessica Black said.

"Basically the backyard is a swimming pool - probably got three to four feet of water. Standing water. The water is still moving from the river," Alex Black said.

Lincolnshire officials left notes on homeowners' doors asking residents to evacuate voluntarily, with the river expecting to crest this weekend.

"Don't want to lose it. Don't want to see all hard work underwater," Alex Black said.

A block away, on Oxford Drive, water crept up on Scott Zilligen's home.

"My son and I are going to get some sand bags. They are suggesting people evacuate, but we're going to wait it out," Zilligen said.

The village set up sand bagging stations, but one family set up their own station in their front yard, as children splashed through pools of water to get to their front door.

The mayor of Grayslake called this event a "100-year flood," since more than four inches of rain fell there in under three hours. Crews continued to clear drains and ditches Thursday as high water threatens to stall cars. Officials told motorists not to drive through standing water.

Campbell Airport in Grayslake is closed due to high water flooding on both runways. A charity event was planned at the airport over the weekend, which will continue though the airport has not yet announced how.

Everything one family owns is underwater.

"It's probably filled up to my chest with water" Nicole Barkes said. "There's no way to go in."

And even if they could get into their basement apartment, it may not be worth it.

"I don't know if anything is really left at this point," she said.

Even her boyfriend's car is submerged. Early Wednesday morning they left the only home they've ever shared as water poured in.

"I can't even explain the feeling. There's nothing like just getting up, grabbing your kid and running, and to come back and see everything you worked hard for just gone... yes, in a rainstorm," Barkes said.

Everyone in Brittany Square apartments is moving out. They have to; it's not safe to stay.

"We don't have electricity, and gas, and water," said Kanimozha, a resident who only wanted to use her first name.

"The place is going to be condemned soon. We want you to vacate by this evening," Menuhara Jayachandran said she was told.

"Now we are going to stay in a hotel. After that we will have to see," Kanimozha said.

Some people caught fish swimming in the yard and road, putting them back in the lake.

"I got three pretty good sized carp, a bass, and three catfish, and a bunch of little bluegills," Don Roberts said.

In Des Plaines, the river had reached 18.86 ft. by 7:15 a.m., NWS said. The record crest in Des Plaines of 20.92 ft. was also set on April 19, 2013. The river is expected to reach 21 ft.

The city of Des Plaines activated its emergency operations center as a precaution. CLICK HERE to read emergency updates or call 847-391-5543 and listen to the recorded message. In case of an emergency, call 911.

CLICK HERE to get the latest updates on road closures in Des Plaines and where to find materials for sandbagging.
The Fox River is also expected to continue rising Thursday, the weather service said.

In Algonquin, the river had reached 10.38 ft. by 7:30 a.m. The record level in Algonquin of 12.70 ft. was set on April 23, 2013. The river is expected to reach 13.5 ft. sometime between Monday and Tuesday of next week, if more rain falls in the area.

In Montgomery, the river had reached 13.63 ft. by 7:30 a.m. The record crest in Montgomery of 15.14 ft. was set on April 18, 2013. The river is expected to reach 14 ft. on Saturday.

The Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe was closed Thursday and will be closed again Friday due to flooding. Check www.chicagobotanic.org to see when the garden will re-open.

There's also state of emergency Thursday morning in Libertyville. The city got more than 7 inches of rain. Chopper 7HD was over the area as people pumped water from their flooded homes and yards.

Round Lake residents used canoes to get around neighborhood streets.

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Power was restored Thursday morning at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital.

Power was restored Thursday morning at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital. The hospital was evacuated Wednesday as the flooding put patients in danger.

The power first went out around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, officials said. Approximately 70 patients were transported via ambulance to other area hospitals. Patients in the Intensive Care Unit were the first to move.

ComEd told ABC7 Eyewitness News crews repaired the damage and restored power just before 9 p.m.

The hospital was closed Thursday and officials said shortly before 10 p.m. it will remain closed Friday. Ambulances have been instructed to route to other local hospitals.


Cook County Department of Homeland Security activated the county's emergency operations center to help local authorities help residents.

Cook County officials also imparted advice to drivers that was echoed by the Illinois Department of Transportation: "Turn around, don't drown."

Six inches of water will reach bottom of passenger cars and could cause them to stall, officials said. One foot of water will float many vehicles and 2 ft. of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks.

Officials implored drivers not to travel through a flooded roadway, since the depth of the water is not always obvious and the road bed may have washed out, which can strand vehicles.

They also asked motorists not to drive around barricades and to stick to designated evacuation routes, because shortcuts may be blocked. If a driver gets stuck, they should abandon their vehicle and move to higher ground.

CLICK HERE to map a route before leaving the house based on the latest conditions from IDOT.


The weather affected Chicago's airports Wednesday. More than 700 flights were canceled Wednesday at O'Hare International Airport.

As of 6 a.m. Thursday, 36 flights were canceled at O'Hare and two flights were canceled at Midway International Airports. Delays averaged less than 15 minutes at both airports.
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