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Significant flood ripples through the community

Rising waters force rescues, evacuations

A house backed up to the DuPage River in unincorporated Channahon Township got swamped by the rising waters.
A house backed up to the DuPage River in unincorporated Channahon Township got swamped by the rising waters.

Some residents in Channahon and Minooka found themselves being evacuated during last week’s storm.

In Channahon, it was mostly voluntary, but Minooka residents on Cemetery Road were removed by swift water rescue teams.

Channahon resident Corey Clower said he was staying put in his Story Street home mid-morning on Friday, April 19. He had lived in a house just down the street during the “100 year” flood of 1996 and stayed dry.

“I’ve been here 54 years,” said Clower. “I’m not going anywhere.”

But a half block away, across Canal Street, neighbors were loading belongings into vehicles and getting out.

Water rushed over a section of the dam at the State Park’s Channahon access. Homes in the vicinity of the park along Canal and Story streets and further south on Blackberry Lane were evacuated, Channahon Police Detective Adam Bogart said.

Channahon Fire Protection District officials said approximately 41 residents were notified without incident. At least 21 occupants, just from the apartment complex on Blackberry Lane, had to leave.
“We asked for volunteers and people cooperated,” Bogart said.

A temporary shelter was set up at the Channahon Park District Field House.

The dam near Bridge Street was compromised due to the flooding, which could have potentially led to washing out the bridge, fire district officials reported. A portion of the dam where the DuPage River and I & M Canal cross was eroding. This would have caused more flooding quickly and would have put residents at risk.

By late afternoon Friday, workers from “D” Construction were applied truckloads of rock to the Channahon Dam at the Channahon State Park.  Concrete jersey barriers and sand bags were brought to the scene to reinforce the dam.

Channahon Police Chief Jeff Wold reported the workers had applied the rock to reinforce the dam and “to ensure that the dam didn’t breech and flood areas south of the dam.”

Residents from Canal Street, Blackberry Lane and Jessup Streets, who voluntarily evacuated, were told that they could return to their homes.

According to the Army Corps of Engineer office in Rock Island, the DuPage River crested at  11.6 inches at 1 p.m. Friday in Shorewood, and was expected to be under flood stage by 1 p.m. on Saturday, which would hopefully give residents with flooding a break.

Some residents in the Bonita Vista subdivision, which adjoins the DuPage River in Minooka, found the rising water played havoc with their homes. Basements flooded on the south end of the subdivision.

On the east side of Channahon, Interstate 55 was flooded and closed between Interstate 80 and U.S. 6. Canal Road, which runs under Interstate 55, was also flooded and closed near the interstate, said Channahon’s Emergency Management Director Lupe Olvera.

Channahon Fire Department’s swift water rescue team was called out to assist the Wilmington Fire Department during the late hours of Thursday night to evacuate a man from his vehicle on Blogett Road, said Channahon Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Toepper.

The vehicle, driven by a man in his mid-20s, was slammed into a tree by rushing waters and the driver was stranded.

“The victim was evacuated, checked out medically and was fine,” said Toepper. “There were no injuries.”

Mid-day on Friday, officials were keeping a close watch on the rising waters of the DuPage as they came over McEvilly/Ford Road, making it almost impossible to pass. If the road further west into Channahon flooded, like it did in 1996, residents would be trapped in or out of their subdivisions.

Overnight Thursday into Friday, a handful of Minooka residents in Shady Oak Mobile Home park were evacuated due to flooding of the Aux Sable Creek and a nearby retention pond. Gas was shut off to the entire subdivision by NiCor, one resident said.

Shady Oaks manager Jeannie Barrett didn’t have an exact count of residents who were flooded. “We are still trying to assess the damage,” she said Friday morning.

Tabler Road was closed off south of Shady Oaks Road. A pick-up truck was abandoned just off the road, water up to the driver’s side door.

About 35 residents on Cemetery Road in Minooka had to be evacuated, some assisted by the Minooka Dive Team with help from swift water rescue from MABAS Division 41 out of Bloomington, Normal and Hudson, said Ken Briley, Director of Emergency Management for Minooka.

People were rescued from the inside and from the tops of their cars on Cemetery, Tabler and Holt roads. No injuries were reported at that time.

“We are seeing record (flooding) levels,” Briley said.

Will County Emergency Management brought in nine tons of sand and 2,000 sandbags to distribute to residents in Minooka’s Bonita Vista Subdivision, whose homes back up to the DuPage.

Both towns had emergency shelters set up. Residents in and around Minooka were sent to Minooka Community High School Central Campus, where cots, personal products and food items were provided by Minooka Bible Church and Minooka Police Department’s CERT team.

Food was donated to the fire and police workers by 2-Fer’s Restaurant, and the Grundy County United Way volunteered to pay for meals for the Cemetery Road crews.

Channahon residents could find refuge at the Channahon Park District/Channahon School District Fieldhouse.

With Minooka’s entire water rescue force out helping residents, the department called in Oswego’s boat crew earlier on Friday, Briley said.

“They are on standby,” said Briley. “We don’t know what the DuPage River is going to do or what assistance Channahon will need.”

By Friday afternoon, things were at a lull, Toeppersaid. The DuPage had crested and Channahon rescue workers were on standby.

“We are on the downslope,” said Toepper. “I think if we can get through into the evening without much more, we’ll be on the downslope.”

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