MORRIS – A quick freeze and nearly three inches of snow kept local emergency responders busy Wednesday morning.
Tracey Steffes, chief of the Morris Fire Protection and Ambulance District, said his department assisted in eight or more accidents on Interstate 80 from 7 to 11:30 a.m.
“We had so many accidents, I honestly lost count,” Steffes said. “We would clear up on an accident and another would happen while we were there.”
The majority of drivers walked away from the crashes, but Steffes said they had two transports to Morris Hospital.One driver was transported in serious condition after their vehicle smashed into the back of a semitrailer and they were trapped inside. Steffes said it took about 15 minutes to extricate the driver from the vehicle.An Illinois State Police officer also was taken to Morris Hospital with minor injuries after his vehicle was struck on Interstate 80, Steffes said.
“Some of the days where we had more snow, we didn’t have the accidents like today,” Steffes said.
According to the National Weather Service, 2.7 inches of snow had fallen in Grundy County by 10 a.m. Wednesday.
“A lot of times, it doesn’t matter how much falls, but what time it falls,” Morris Police Chief Brent Dite said. “Today it happened to fall during commuting hours.”
Steffes also blamed the influx of accidents on the snow’s timing.
“If you look, most of the major snowfalls this winter have happened on Saturdays or Sundays,” he said. “Today, everyone was commuting to work.”
There were no accidents within Morris on Wednesday, Dite said, but his officers assisted with several accidents on I-80 before handing them over to state police.
“After so much snow, maybe people are getting better at driving in this stuff,” he said.
Warm water siphons to stay on
The warm water siphon keeping Kankakee River flooding at bay will stay on as long as emergency management agencies need them, despite the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency mandate to shut them off after two weeks.
The siphon draws warm water from Exelon’s Dresden Station cooling lake and discharges it into the Kankakee River to prevent ice jams from flooding.Because the water is heated by means of an industrial process, it is considered to be thermal pollution under state and federal laws. The IEPA only allows the siphons to be turned on twice a year for two weeks at a time to prevent damage to the aquatic ecosystems in the river.
Grundy County Board Chairman Ron Severson said he is happy Gov. Pat Quinn agreed to leave the siphon running after pleas from local emergency agencies and state representatives.
“How much it helps, we don’t know, but it does seem to be helping so far,” he said.
According to the National Weather Service, current river levels at the Kankakee and Illinois rivers are well below flood level.