Chicago swamped by deluge of rain: flooding widespread

11:20 AM, Apr 18, 2013   |    comments
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CHICAGO - As northern Illinois deals with numerous road closures and widespread flooding from more than five inches of heavy rain, Gov. Pat Quinn flew from Springfield Thursday morning to assess the damage.

"I urge everyone to stay alert and avoid flooded areas," Quinn said. "Residents should tune in to local TV and radio stations for updated information about any closed routes or evacuations."

The National Weather Service issued Flood Warnings and Flood Watches over the entire metro area as the area braces for another two inches of rain along with possibly strong-to-severe thunderstorms, damaging winds, lightning, large hail and even an isolated tornado.

Rain and flooding caused parts of the Edens and Eisenhower expressways to close in both directions. The Illinois Department of Transportation said the Edens was closed from Foster to Touhy avenues, and a section of the Eisenhower Expressway was also closed from York to North because of flooded roadways.

Traffic was at a standstill on the Kennedy in both directions at outbound Keeler and inbound Addison. The list of closed roadways grew throughout the region as the rain persisted.

In the last 24 hours, more than six inches of rain fell in Oak Brook and Naperville, while O'Hare International Airport saw 4.69 inches. Among the towns hardest hit with more than five inches of rain were Elmhurst, Lisle, Lombard, Aurora and Wheaton.

In one neighborhood intense rain triggered a sinkhole that swallowed three vehicles.

More than 300 flights were canceled Thursday at Chicago's airports and some trains were delayed as severe weather blanketed the metro area. Thursday morning at O'Hare, water was seen coming through the roof at Terminal 3.

As of 7:30 a.m. the Des Plaines River was at a level of 10 feet and rising with multiple roads closed including Route 41 between Route 21 and Delany Road in both directions. Lombard officials declared a State of Emergency as the flooding continued.

"The Village of Lombard has received approximately five inches of rain during the last 24 hours, which has led to flooded roads, ponds overtopping their banks and hazardous conditions," officials said. "The weather forecast anticipates rain throughout the morning, which will lead to additional high water and flood conditions."

A short time later the village of Lisle also declared a State of Emergency, directing residents who need to evacuate their homes or businesses for flooding to the Krasa Center at Benedictine University.

"Due to the extensive flooding residents, commuters, and visitors are advised to avoid unnecessary travel," officials said. "The Lisle Police Department also advises of the dangers of attempting to drive or walk through standing or flood waters. Waters can vary in depth and current causing vehicles or people to be swept away."

Multiple schools were closed for the weather and the Illinois Department of Transportation urged commuters to stay home instead of fighting with flooded roadways.

The National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for all of northern Illinois. Portions of Illinois and Indiana were under a tornado watch, meaning conditions were right for the formation of a funnel cloud.

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