Flood waters force residents, businesses to bail water, fill sandbags
Beacon-News Staff April 18, 2013 6:44AM
Aurora Area Road Closures
- Farnsworth Avenue between Indian Trail and Mountain Street;
- Broadway Avenue (Rt. 25) between Pierce Street and the U.S. Post Office;
- 75th Street between Routes 34 (Ogden Ave.) and Route 59;
- South Eola Road between Montgomery Road and 87th Street;
- Route 25 in Kendall County ;
- Emergency School Closings Site
- Metra updates
- Weather Service Chicago area map
- Storify: Your #CSTstorm photos, video, updates
- IDOT road closure reports
- Firefighters make school bus rescue in Oswego
- Some Aurora, Naperville area roads starting to reopen
- Dealing with the deluge, and a flood of bad memories
- Aurora’s Water Street bookstore, theater flood
- Communities planning for the flood clean up
- Water, wind cause Old Depot roof to collapse
- Massive storm and floods keep Naperville in their grip Friday
Updated: May 20, 2013 7:41PM
The up to 8 inches of rain that fell on the Fox Valley Wednesday and Thursday flooded streets and basements, closed schools and caused everyone to nervously watch the level of every area body of water, especially the Fox River.
Fortunately, there are no reports of any deaths connected with the storms. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been plenty of accidents, stranded vehicles and other storm-related emergencies.
Many major roadways were shut down throughout DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties, which are among the hardest hit by the flooding and storms.
Dozens of people showed up Thursday afternoon to grab free sandbags provided by the City of Aurora.
Braving the rain, resident Sandra Alvarez packed her trunk full of the heavy bags, hoping that they will help ward off some of the water that entered her home on Illinois Avenue and Randall Road on Thursday.
“We are trying to pump (the water out), but it’s not working,” Alvarez said. “The crawlspace is flooded, and our furnace is probably gone.”
Alvarez spent the morning calling stores, searching for supplies.
“Everything is sold out,” she said.
By 8 a.m., most stores she reached had their stockpiles diminished.
The family moved into their home just over two years ago, and have yet to experience the Fox Valley’s infamous floods.
“We didn’t think it would be this bad,” she said.
North Central College called off classes shortly after 9 a.m., and School District 204 in Naperville and Aurora announced at 7:25 that schools will be closed for the day as buses were finding it too difficult to get around.
Yorkville schools are going to let students out early. High school and middle school students will get out at 10:30 a.m., with grade school students getting out at 11:45 a.m.
All West Aurora after-school athletics and activities are canceled today, including tonight’s jazz performance at Mullen’s. The Communities in Schools “My Time” program is canceled at West High, Jefferson Middle, and Smith, Hall, Hill, McCleery, Greenman and Nicholson elementary schools.
West Aurora after-school daycare, however, is not canceled.
All after-school activities at East Aurora, including kindergarten registration, are canceled today.
“School started with just some hiccups,” said East Aurora spokesman Adam Harding.
Aurora police helped Cowherd Middle School reroute traffic in the opposite direction because of a flooded parking lot. Harding said Oak Park Elementary’s parking lot and nearby street parking were available for use.
The district is “being flexible” with students and staff who arrive late due to the weather. Harding said there was no bus report yet, but that only a few special needs and preschool students use the transportation service.
West Aurora School District sent an email to parents this morning letting them know buses would be running slower than normal due to street closures near the Fox River, traffic and standing water.
District spokesman Mike Chapin said all buses arrived at school safely, but that some staff was unable to make the commute.
“A few staffers got trapped,” he said. “One was on the expressway with water up to her windows.”
The district has made substitutions for absent staff. There are no building issues at this time, Chapin said. Athletic fields may be out of commission for “many days” Chapin said, but the high school football stadium has all-weather field turf that can be used for practice and gym classes.
Metra was reporting trains running up to 20 minutes late on both the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe lines. The pedestrian tunnels at Belmont and Naperville stations were flooded due to severe weather conditions, the agency said.
There also were reports of sewage backups on the east side of Aurora.
The city of Aurora reported major roads closed due to flooding, with pockets of residential streets potentially impassable throughout the city. Motorist were being urged to exercise extreme caution when approaching standing water.
A limited amount of sandbags will be available for residents after 1 p.m. today at 1110 Aurora Ave., near the Aurora Water Treatment Plant.
The city has reassigned personnel to handle a large volume of calls at the city’s Customer Service Center. Aurora residents experiencing flooding should call the Customer Service Center with weather-related inquiries at 630-256-INFO (4636). These would include reports of flooded basements and streets, said city spokesman Dan Ferrelli.
Dozens of crews are addressing calls as they come in and are also monitoring creeks, detention basins and other areas of water. The city’s Emergency Operations Center was activated earlier this morning.
Ferrelli said motorists should not attempt to drive around barricades at closed roads. Use extreme caution when approaching standing water.
Aurora roads closed due to flooding are:
Hankes Road between Galena and Blackberry Ridge
Farnsworth and Hafenrichter
Bilter Road between Charter Oaks Drive and DuPage Parkway
Orchard Road between Galena and Prairie
Eastbound ramp to I-88 at Diehl Road
Route 59 andMeridian at the BNSF Tracks closed due to flooded underpass.
Farnsworth Avenue between Indian Trail and Mountain Street
Broadway Avenue (Rt. 25) between Pierce Street and the U.S. Post Office
75th Street between Routes 34 (Ogden Avenue) and 59
South Eola Road between Montgomery Road and 87th Street
Route 34 (Ogden Avenue) eastbound at Long Grove
Pockets of residential streets citywide may be impassable.
Also, water is flowing over the road on Denny, just East of Bliss Road to Merrill New; south of Bliss on Capital Drive north of Park Avenue; and Prairie Road east of Route 47.
Batavia street department crews and police dealt with a morning of standing water and impassable roads throughout the city as well as the partial closing of a main south-north route in and out of the city.
“We experienced many roads inundated with water and received numerous reports of flooded basements,” said Gary Holm, Batavia director of Public Works.
Holm said the main arterial road closure is in the 1300 block of Batavia Avenue (Route 31). Police closed one southbound lane on Route 31 because it is impassable by motorists.
Holm said many of the city’s subdivision roads were closed as well.
“The southwest side of town seemed to be the hardest hit,” he said.
Holm said their next concern is the potential for the Fox River overflowing the banks.
“We have not experienced any significant problems but we are monitoring the Fox River levels,” Holm said.
The National Weather Service reported the East Branch of the DuPage River was at 20.9 feet as of 3:30 a.m. Thursday; flood stage is 19.5 feet. The river is expected to continue rising to 22.7 feet by early Friday, according to the agency, and a river flood warning was to remain in effect until 3 p.m. Sunday.
Pockets of residential streets across Aurora may be impassable. The city urges motorists to exercise extreme caution when approaching standing water.
Kendall County reports numerous roadways in the county are currently impassible and warns residents to avoid traveling on these areas until conditions have improved.
Flooded roadways include at Bluegrass and Preakness; Colchester and Duran; Proclamation and Route 30; Treasure and Blue Ridge; Wolf, from Route 30 to Harvey; Wolf, from Route 34 to Douglas; Lakeview and Pinehurst; Route 30 and Treasure; Route 30 and Mitchell; Mitchell and Treasure; Colchester and Woolley; Waubonsee east of Pearces Ford; Colchester at Southbury; Collins between Grove and Blue Heron; Kendall Point south of Route 34; Morgan Valley, east of Grove; Harrison, between Washington and Adams; Cebold and Eastway; Adams, between North and Jackson; Morgan Valley at Mustang; Morgan Valley at Prairieview, all the way to Camden; Charismatic in Churchill; 900 block of Jessemine; Route 34, east of Waubonsee Lane; Woolley between Douglas and the Fire Department 1; from Harvey and Wolf to Oswego East High School; Wolf and Southbury; Southbury Clubhouse; Route 34 from Pearces Ford to Boulder Hill Pass; Route 25 at the viaduct; Southbury, you cannot exit Southbury onto Wolf Road in either direction; Route 25 from Glendale to Bereman.
Water is reported as high as car windows along Route 25 in Montgomery.
The Kendall County Emergency Management Agency said that sand and sandbags are available at the Kendall County Highway Department, 6780 Route 47, Yorkville. This is a self service location; appropriate tools and manpower need to be brought along.
In Yorkville, sporadic roads were flooded this morning, just as they were throughout Kendall County.
A puddle in front of Yorkville High School helped cause an accident that actually partially blocked entrance to the school.
“It was insane,” said Kelsey Caldwell, a Yorkville High senior.
Eventually, officials closed school early, dismissing high school and middle school students at 10:30 a.m. and elementary school students at 11:45 a.m.
For Kelsey Caldwell, a Yorkville High senior, that meant spending time with her family: her father, Brad, mother, Jodi, sister, Lindsey and brother, Tyler.
They took a walk in Riverfront Park to watch the raging waters on the Fox River. It was so high, the whitewater course was underwater, the water was even with the Glen Palmer Dam, and an island in the middle of the river was completely covered.
Police had closed off the bridge and stairway that leads to that island.
“The river is even with the dam,” said Jodi Caldwell. “We’ve lived here 10 years and I’ve never seen it this high.”
Her husband, Brad, is a teacher at Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora. He was almost to work when he found out classes had been canceled.
“I didn’t even get all the way there,” he said. “I got turned around three times, I was on all kinds of roads.”
Because of the high river, homeowners along Van Emmon Road, east of downtown, were watching their properties closely. In that area, there are many homes between the river and the railroad tracks, most of which have piers into the river and boats.
They are used to watching the vagaries of the river, but one man said Wednesday was different.
“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” he said.
In DuPage County, some 39,000 sandbags had gone out to municipalities before 10 a.m., according to a press release that described the flooding as “severe.” More than two dozen residents had sought services at the county’s emergency shelter at Benedictine University.
Naperville city spokeswoman Kate Houlihan stressed the importance of avoiding areas where water has collected.
“There’s a saying: ‘Turn around, don’t drown.’ People definitely shouldn’t drive through flooded areas,” Houlihan said shortly before 8 a.m. Thursday.
City public works crews, accompanied by police, were circulating in various districts, looking for trouble spots that had not yet been reported. Scattered power outages also were being addressed, and residents with flooded basements were being reminded to be cautious about electrical equipment and cords that may be located in those areas, to reduce the risk of electrocution.
Everyone was being urged to stay off the roads if possible.
“Our fire department has received over 100 calls so far,” Houlihan said, adding that most involved flooding in basements.