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Heavy rains drench Southland

Water fills street Saturday July 12 2014 78th Avenue 99th Street Palos Hills.  |  Steve Metsch/Sun-Times Media

Water fills the street Saturday, July 12, 2014, at 78th Avenue and 99th Street in Palos Hills. | Steve Metsch/Sun-Times Media

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Updated: August 14, 2014 6:45AM



Saturday morning’s deluge resulted in many flooded streets and some soggy basements throughout the Southland, but officials said things were relatively back to normal by the late afternoon.

They were, however, apprehensive regarding a forecast for more heavy rains Saturday night. Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki knows all about the latter.

“I live in (the) Brookside Glen (subdivision) and according to the rain gauge in my back yard, we got just under 4 inches of rain from 5:30 to 10 (Saturday morning). I’m not sure, but I think there may have been a microburst in the old part of town. From what I understand, they got just under 5 inches. When you get that much rain, there’s not a hell of a lot you can do,” Zabrocki said.

He said, “Some streets flooded, and I’m going to guess some houses did, too.”

Nonetheless, a flooded street beats a flooded basement, Tinley Park village Trustee Dave Seaman said.

“That’s how it’s designed. Better a street flood than someone’s basement,” Seaman said.

Seaman took a walk Saturday to survey the Tinley Terrance and Kimberly Heights subdivisions in the northeast corner of Tinley Park and didn’t see many problems.

“So far, so good,” he said.

“From what I can tell, the drains are working as they should. I didn’t seen anybody pumping water out. And it looks like the electricity is working. But everything is so super-saturated now, the real danger is there’s no place for more water to go,” Seaman said.

There were reports of flooded streets in Oak Forest, Midlothian, Palos Hills and other communities as drains were overwhelmed.

In Oak Lawn, “a couple of pockets were hit pretty hard and you can see a lot of standing water,” village Trustee Alex Olejniczak, 2nd, said.

“We had a lot of water coming through town. I drove out to the retention area on 87th Street in Burbank, and that was loaded. I drove down to Stoney Creek by Richards High School. It wasn’t the worst I’ve ever seen, but the creek was holding a lot of water,” Olejniczak said.

Thankfully, there were no widespread reports of power outages, a longstanding problem in a village with an aging ComEd infrastructure, he said.

“We did have an outage in the area of 95th and Campbell. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the storm, but power was back up in about an hour. It’s the recoveries of two or three days that are hard for residents to deal with,” Olejniczak said.

In Tinley Park, Zabrocki is having a hard time dealing with “the a------- driving pickup trucks full-speed down flooded streets, and you can quote me on that,” he said

“If the water is 4 or 5 feet from your house, this can cause 18-inch waves heading right toward the foundation. These guys are real jerks, and I hope we catch them,” Zabrocki said.

One video posted online showed a truck pulling someone riding a tube down a flooded streets, leaving waves of water in its wake.

The National Weather Service warned of hazardous weather and flash flooding throughout Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon in northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana.

Severe thunderstorms were expected in the area overnight, which could bring “torrential downpours,” lightning and 60 mph wind gusts, the weather service said.

Starting about 7 p.m. and lasting until Sunday afternoon, a flash flood watch was in effect throughout the region, forecasters said.

A tornado watch was issued for parts of northern Illinois, Iowa and Missouri, in effect until midnight, according to the weather service. Illinois counties included in the tornado watch include Carroll, Henderson, Henry, Jo Daviess, Mercer, Rock Island, Stephenson, Warren and Whiteside.

About 11:30 a.m., thunderstorms with heavy rainfall moved out of Will and Cook counties areas, leaving behind rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches and widespread flooding, the weather service said. A flood warning was in place in the two counties until 3:30 p.m.

When Jody Jensen woke up in her Manhattan home Saturday morning, she pulled the curtains back to find her street underwater. The bucket on her front lawn collected over 6 inches, she said.

About a half hour after she reported the problem, Mayor Jamie Doyle and two men from the village public works department showed up to investigate. At that point, the water already had started to go down.

“The water came down faster than the drains can take it,” said Mayor Jamie Doyle. “(The water) did seem to go down really fast.”

Jensen said the intersection of Second and Lee streets was entirely under water. Several streets in the Century East neighborhood were flooded.

U.S. 45 heading south outside Frankfort was flanked with ditches that overflowed. In one spot, the water swelled to nearly the center line.

On Manhattan-Monee Road east of Cedar Road in Manhattan Township, a dip was nearly impassable. So were many driveways in Mokena and New Lenox. Across the area, hundreds of acres of crops also were flooded.

“It doesn’t take forever for water to cause significant damage,” Jensen said. “Once it stops raining, it will diminish pretty quickly.”

“On Monday, (public works is) going to check all those storm drains,” Doyle said. “They didn’t look like they were clogged, but we are going to make sure they’re not.”

Rural areas were affected more by the rain. A creek running south of Manhattan flooded a bordering sheep farm along Cedar Road. On the other side, the same creek flooded acres of wooded areas.

For the first time since the event began in 1980, Chicago canceled the Taste of Chicago on Saturday because of heavy rainfall and flooding, according to a statement from the city’s Office of Emergency Management. The festival is expected to reopen at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Contributing: Sun-Times Media



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