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Sudden storms hit county

SYCAMORE — It just came fast. That’s how Cindy McCall, 43, described the water that rushed from the Kishwaukee River. Between 4:30 and 5 a.m. today, the water rose about 8 inches in 20 minutes in the area near Evergreen Village Mobile Home Park west of DeKalb Avenue in Sycamore. That’s when the evacuation started, said McCall, who lives in Evergreen Village. Fire and rescue workers have been using two boats since then, making trip after trip to pluck residents from their homes and take them to dry land. “I’m wondering how it’s going to look when we get back in,” McCall said. The “what’s next” question is being asked by numerous people in DeKalb County today. About 4.85 inches of rain have fallen since Thursday morning, and another 1-2 inches are expected from storms today. The rain has caused area rivers to swell, basements to flood and roadways to close. “What’s next?” is a question that doesn’t have a firm answer right now.
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The city of Sycamore has declared a flooding emergency. The city of DeKalb has declared a state of emergency, and will be seeking help from the county and state. Between 500 and 600 people have been displaced. People looking for a place to stay should go to the Northern Illinois University Recreation Center, 320 N. Annie Glidden Road. The Kishwaukee River’s flood stage is 10 feet, and at 6:30 a.m. today the river was observed to be at 15.21 feet, according to the National Weather Service. The river is predicted to reach 15.4 feet, just a little more than a half-inch below the record stage of 15.8 feet. At 9:30 a.m. today, Bethany Road was the only road crossing the Kishwaukee River that was still open, County Engineer Bill Lorence said. All other east-west roads crossing the river had been closed. The NWS predicts the water will begin to recede Saturday and should be below flood stage by Monday morning. The rain and its subsequent flooding caused the DeKalb School District to cancel classes for today and Sycamore High School to reschedule tonight’s football home opener for Saturday evening. American Youth Soccer Organization has canceled its games for Saturday. Vendors will be allowed to set up booths on Lincoln Highway for Corn Fest, but all activities planned for today have been canceled, Corn Fest officials said this morning. Power outages are scattered throughout the area, leaving several hundred residents without power, ComEd spokesman Paul Callighan said this morning. Local authorities have asked to have power cut to some flood-prone areas, he said. “Obviously, throughout northern Illinois, we have a large number of outages,” he said. The heaviest rain fell through the central part of the county, with Waterman getting 3.5 inches of rain, said Nathan Marsili of the National Weather Service in Romeoville. Rain totals were lightest in the northern and southern ends of the county, he said. At 3 a.m. today, Dennis Miller, coordinator of the DeKalb County Emergency Services and Disaster Agency, was told to expect up to another 2 inches of rain in the next 24 hours by the National Weather Service. The heavy rain has been caused by a stationary storm front that settled over northern Illinois early in the week and just stayed there, Northern Illinois University meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste said this morning. With existing humid conditions and remnants of Tropical Storm Erin blowing into the region, the atmosphere had “more moisture to work with than usual,” he said. Light to moderate rain should continue this morning and intensify this afternoon, Marsili said. The county could get another 1-2 inches of rain by the end of the day, Marsili said, but should have little to no rain Saturday. On the bright side, the storm system should finally begin moving on late tonight. “After tonight is done with, so is the rain,” he said. But that’s little consolation to those being evacuated today. At Evergreen Village, Lt. Todd Turner of the Sycamore Fire Department stood over a black three-ring binder with plastic-covered sheets. The sheets held a map of the area. “In the back, it’s over (rescuers’) heads,” he said of where the water levels reached. “We’re working from back to front.” With about 75 mobile homes in the park, and just two inflatable boats, Turner tried to keep anxious residents at ease as red-suited technical rescuers continued to pluck people out of their homes. Families like the Stewarts were separated as they waited for loved ones to be brought to shore. Bobby Stewart, 72, was rescued with his wife, Addie Stewart, 66, and his granddaughter, 9-year-old Katie Stewart. His wife was very ill, and was evacuated by ambulance. Bobby and Katie were waiting for his son, Jeff Stewart, 49, to be pulled out. Millie Ross, 56, came from Sterling with her husband and son to rescue her brain-damaged ex-husband. “It’s an act of God,” she said as she shook her head, looking at the water. Many residents, who said they did not have flood insurance, worried that the rising waters would claim their possessions. Nita Rogers, 54, approached Lt. Turner, worried about her 15-year-old abandoned cat, Dillon. The lieutenant tried to reassure her. “It’s moving fast,” he said, referring to the water. “I’m risking their lives,” he said of the rescuers. Lt. Shaun Penn of the Sycamore Fire Department, a technical rescuer, set out by himself to rescue Dillon and returned shortly afterward with the cat in his arms. Other areas under water include North First Street near Clinton Rosette Middle School in DeKalb, Twombly Road west of Bethany Road, the bridge on Lucinda Avenue and Lions Park. The Enclave and the Knolls subdivisions are under a lot of water. Fourth Street was flooded last night from Franklin up to Lincoln Highway. Police are putting up barricades and caution motorists not to disobey them. They also should not drive through any standing water, Miller said. “We recommend people be really cautious when they are driving,” Miller said. “Water is very powerful. It can move a car off the roadway.” County residents should “be cautious and use extreme care” while out today, Miller added. “At this point, hang in there,” he said. “I know it’s a very difficult situation for a lot of people. We’ve been through this before and we’ll get through it again.”



<span class="headline">Advice from city officials</span><p>&bull; If you are driving and encounter water on the roadway, use an alternate route. Water may be deeper than it appears, and portions of the street may have washed away.<br>&bull; Stay out of the river and out of flood water or large areas of standing water. Fast-moving water is a serious threat to the safety of even strong swimmers, and flood waters may be a health hazard.<br>&bull; Do not enter flooded basements. Flooded basements are a serious electrocution hazard and may contain raw sewage, a potentially serious health hazard.<br>&bull; If you smell natural gas in your home, move to the outside and call 911 immediately. If you smell natural gas anywhere else, call 911.<br>&bull; Sandbags are available for pickup at the city of DeKalb Water Division Garage at 1216 Market St.<br>&bull; Customers without power should call ComEd&#8217;s automated hot line, (800)EDISON1, to report outages. Callers trying to reach live operators will have a much longer wait.<br>&bull; People are encouraged to check on elderly neighbors and family to ensure their safety. Police, Fire and EMS should be contacted immediately.<br>&bull; Stay tuned to local media for additional information.

<span class="headline">Sandbagging help needed</span><p>Any able-body person who can fill sandbags is asked to come to the city&#8217;s Water Division Garage at 1216 Market St. in DeKalb to help, DeKalb Director of Public Works Rick Monas said this morning. <br>The city will deliver the sandbags to flooded areas, Monas said.

<span class="headline">Cancellations</span><p>&bull; DeKalb and Sycamore hig schools have cancelled their football home openers have been rescheduled for Saturday evening.<br>&bull; American Youth Soccer Organization has canceled its games for Saturday.<br>&bull; Vendors will be allowed to set up booths on Lincoln Highway for Corn Fest, but all activities planned for today have been canceled. A decision will be made about weekend events later today.

<span class="headline">Know more</span><p>Turn to www.daily-chronicle.com throughout the day for continued updates about the flooding, cancellations and weather conditions.

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