Some area highways shut down, vehicles stuck in water amid Flood Warning at Chicago River

At least 7 vehicles were trapped as floodwaters inundated a viaduct right off I-290

ByMichelle Gallardo and Maher Kawash and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Monday, July 3, 2023
Highways shut down, vehicles stuck amid dangerous flash floods
The National Weather Service issued Flash Flood Warnings for multiple area counties on Sunday amid heavy Chicago rain.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some Chicago-area highways have been shut down and vehicles got stuck in water amid dangerous flash floods on Sunday.

The National Weather Service issued Flash Flood Warnings for multiple area counties amid heavy Chicago rain.

There is a Flood Warning at the Chicago River until further notice, according to the National Weather Service. The Chicago Riverwalk was under water from Wabash Avenue to Lake Street and Wacker Drive at about 7:30 p.m.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago reversed the flow of the Chicago River to ease flooding downtown.

There was a Flash Flood Warning and Flood Advisory for Cook County until 6:30 p.m.

There was also a Flood Advisory for DuPage and Lake counties until 5:30 p.m.

DuPage and Will counties also had Flash Flood Warnings in effect until 1:15 p.m. Sunday.

The NWS alert said this is a life-threatening situation, and to limit travel.

Rainfall totals Sunday:

  • Berwyn: 8.96 inches
  • Garfield Park: 8.12 inches
  • Lincoln Park: 7.89 inches
  • Midway: 6.34 inches
  • Bridgeport: 5.9 inches

Interstate 55 was shut down in both directions near Pulaski Road due to ongoing flooding Sunday morning, Illinois State Police said.

Flash floods shut down parts of Chicago-area highways Sunday, as NASCAR announced its XFinity Series would not resume.

All lanes of eastbound Interstate 290 are shut down due to flooding, with traffic being diverted to Des Plaines Avenue near Forest Park, ISP said. IDOT has been working to remove the flood waters to reopen the roadway.

But even as drivers avoided the flooding on the expressway, many became ensnared elsewhere as they tried to navigate city streets.

"My GPS was going crazy, and I didn't know where I was going," said Katera Fisher.

At one point on Sunday morning, no less than seven vehicles and their passengers were trapped as floodwaters inundated ta viaduct right off I-290 at 5th and Cicero avenues. A young girl was seen being evacuated from the pickup truck she was riding in, while others attempted to get out on their own walking through what, in some cases, was waist-deep water.

"I went and my car just started floating, and I said, 'Oh, snap.' So, my first reaction was to try and get out of the car. I opened the door, and the water started flooding my feet," Fisher said.

Tow truck drivers have been doing brisk business. But, getting all those trapped vehicles out is no easy task, with many having to wait patiently for water levels to begin to recede.

"The rain hasn't stopped, and so the water levels ain't going down, so right now, we're just waiting, waiting patiently. I try to help as many people as I can. Some people can't afford tows," said driver Sam Martinez.

On the city's West Side, multiple cars remained stuck at an underpass at West Fillmore Street and South Kostner Avenue at 5 p.m.

The CTA Pink Line has also been temporarily suspended between Pulaski and 54th/Cermak due to track conditions. Shuttle buses are available to provide connecting service through the affected area.

The weather has also impacted businesses in the area. Cindy's Flower Shop in Cicero has been dealing with flooding throughout the day, trying to drain the building with a hose leading out to the street.

Hazel Ocana said they won't be able to open the shop on Sunday due to the flooding complications.

Both NASCAR and the Chicago Cubs delayed their respective sporting events due to the weather Sunday.

NASCAR eventually said its XFinity Series would not resume.

The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications urged motorists to use caution and avoid driving through standing water on streets, viaducts and low-lying areas.

Residents can call 3-1-1, visit or use the CHI311 app to report water in your basement, standing water in the street or viaduct flooding.

As of 3:30 p.m., OEMC said they have received 412 calls about water in basements, 264 calls about water on streets and 38 calls about flooded viaducts.

The mayor's office released a statement reminding people to stay off the flooded roads and asking residents to be mindful of their water use.

"To assist with moving water into the wastewater system, please do not use extra water to shower, do laundry or dishes while experiencing storm conditions. As our climate changes and we see heavier rain events in compressed periods of time, it is difficult for our sewer system to move the water efficiently. While it may present a temporary inconvenience, it is better for water to pool on the street than in residents' basements," the statement said, in part.

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