As rain moves out of the Chicago area, several suburbs continue to grapple with flooding concerns Thursday morning, a battle that is far from over after record rainfall hit many northern communities.
Lake County declared a state of emergency in the area late Wednesday night. County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor announced Thursday that he signed a proclamation declaring "severe flooding has created a disaster in Lake County," sending the declaration to Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.
"We expect the Des Plaines and Fox Rivers to crest above major flood level on Saturday, July 15," a statement from the county read. "The Lake County Emergency Operations Center is actively monitoring river levels and weather forecasts. We are also coordinating with local jurisdictions and partners to ensure resources are getting to where they need to go."
Lawlor said widespread flooding has "compromised roadways and other public works infrastructure."
“The past 24 hours have been very challenging for the residents of Lake County as we respond to the flood," Lawlor said in a statement. "Once the waters recede, recovery, clean-up, and damage assessment will continue for weeks. It’s important to remember we are all in this together.”
Homes and businesses in numerous suburbs were surrounded by sandbags as residents rushed to keep the rising waters at bay.
A Flood Warning remained in effect Thursday morning along the Des Plaines and Fox Rivers. The alert warned the Gurnee, Lincolnshire, Des Plaines, River Forest, Riverside and Russell communities along the Des Plaines River and the Algonquin and Montgomery communities along the Fox River that both waterways were expected to rise above flood level by Thursday morning and will continue to rise.
Jack Linehan, the public information officer for Gurnee, said the river height in the area had reached 10.8 inches by early Thursday morning and was predicted to crest at about 12 feet.
"If that happens that is a new record high," he said, adding that river heights that level haven't been seen since the 1980s.
ComEd reported roughly 300 customers remained without power Thursday morning, most in the northern suburbs. On Wednesday, more than 70,000 power outages had been reported. The company said it hopes to restore power to the remaining users by the end of the day Thursday.
The American Red Cross responded to Cook, Lake and McHenry counties to aid those affected by the flooding and power outages. Responders provided shelter, food and water to numerous residents.
Shelter locations include:
• Magee Middle School, 500 N Cedar Lake, Round Lake Beach
• Foss Park Youth Center, 1730 Lewis Ave, North Chicago
• The Chapel in Grayslake, 25270 IL- 60, Grayslake
In Gurnee, officials called for volunteers to help fill sandbags across the area. Area flooding had earlier forced Six Flags Great America to close for the day Wednesday and several roadways remained shut down in the northwest suburb Thursday morning.
Drivers should avoid traveling through standing water in flooded communities, officials said.
In Libertyville, which saw more than 7 inches of rain in less than 24 hours and declared a “state of emergency,” officials urged residents to check in on neighbors and be careful with utilities in flooded basements. Gas and electric services could also be shut off in some areas for safety reasons, officials warned.
Residents are also being told to avoid playing or standing in the high waters, which may be contaminated.
It remained unclear how long the state of emergency would last.
Meanwhile, Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital had its power restored after evacuating some of its patients amidst concerns over power outages and flooding in the area, the medical facility reports. Still, the hospital will remain closed for clinical operations Thursday.
“Our primary goal is to assure the safety of our patients and staff,” the facility wrote on its website.
Popular Lake County hotel, the Lincolnshire Marriott, was also closed Thursday and tweeted that "all guests and staff are safely evacuated."