Dam holds in Channahon after evacuations
By Bob Okon and Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com April 19, 2013 12:26PM
Updated: May 22, 2013 6:38AM
In Channahon, a town of three rivers, temporary repairs to a dam were able to hold floodwaters at bay.
“We’re getting a little drier, the river is receding and every road is open,” Mayor Joe Cook said Saturday afternoon. He planned to meet with state officials about getting a more permanent solution to fixing the dam“so we are confident that it will hold in these conditions.”
Channahon residents on Friday sandbagged homes that were evacuated close to the Illinois & Michigan Canal because of concern that the dam would break.
“We’re hoping this is about the worst,” said Joel Pejkovich as he looked at water that had flooded beyond the canal but had not reached his in-laws’ house.
Pejkovich an hour earlier had helped persuade his in-laws move out of the house until it was clear that the dam would not break.
As he planned to get his emergency crews some rest and recruit volunteers to clean up yards and parks, Cook was grateful no one was hurt or killed.
In the flood of 1996, to which many compared this flood, one person was killed in Channahon, he said
“We live where the waters meet. This is not our first experience with water,” Cook said.
The voluntary evacuation in Channahon was one of several emergency flooding developments that arose Friday as water rushing down rivers and streams from the heavy rains reached southwestern Will and Grundy counties.
Boats were used to evacuate residents in Minooka for nearly 24 hours. More than 30 homes along the Illinois River were believed to have been evacuated between Minooka and Morris on Friday.
Evacuations began Thursday afternoon in Minooka because of flooding from Aux Sable Creek, said Ken Briley, director of the village’s Emergency Management Agency. Rescue operations started at 2 p.m. Thursday and did not end until about 1:45 p.m. Friday.
Other evacuated areas in Minooka were the Shady Oaks mobile home park and a neighborhood at Minooka and Tabler roads.
Elsewhere, cleanup efforts were expected to begin Sunday morning at Morris Hospital. Hospital spokeswoman Janet Long said they would focus on vital services such as the laboratory and the kitchen that they need to restore before bringing the patients back.
The hospital stopped admitting patients after its basement flooded Thursday afternoon. Forty-seven patients were evacuated — transferred to other hospitals, taken back to their nursing homes or released to go home — while the emergency room remained open for new patients.
Corey Clowers was among about 20 Channahon residents Friday who were waiting for more sandbags to put around the house vacated by Pejkovich’s in-laws.
“It’s going down. You can see the water line,” Clowers said, pointing to a tree that showed evidence that the overflow from the canal was receding.
“The neighbors are great,” Pejkovich said. “They saw we had the trucks and sandbags. The next thing you know we have 20 people here helping.”
Harold Damron, director of the Will County Emergency Management Agency, on Friday said the DuPage River crested in the morning in Bolingbrook and in the afternoon at Shorewood and Channahon.
“By evening, things will start to fall off a little bit,” he said of area river levels, adding that the water will continue to move south to the Illinois River and beyond. “As things get better in one area, that water is moving downstream, and things get worse in another area.”
As floodwaters recede, Red Cross workers and county and municipal building inspectors will start to assess damage for possible grant or loan assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Damron said.
“It’s way too early to know (if assistance will come), but the first part of the process is to assess how many homes were flooded,” he said. “In the meantime, we’ve been telling residents: Definitely document damage and track any costs they are incurring.”
Damron said homeowners also should talk to their insurance agents to see what, if any, coverage they have because FEMA will need to know that.
He also said anyone needing shelter can call the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago at 312-729-6100.
Contributing: Susan DeMar Lafferty