Officials Keep Eye on Kankakee River Ice Jams

Resident expresses concern that water, ice could take out Warner Bridge in Wilmington

By Lauren Petty
|  Monday, Feb 24, 2014  |  Updated 7:28 PM CDT
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Officials close bridge as ice jams creep closer to homes, creating flooding concerns.

Officials close bridge as ice jams creep closer to homes, creating flooding concerns.

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Will County officials continue to keep an eye on parts of the Kankakee River in Wilmington where ice jams have formed and forced water over the river banks.

This week's cold weather may temporarily allay those fears but officials said the water will again become a problem with the next thaw.

"Just as quickly as a jam and flooding can develop, the jam can break up, rapidly releasing water," read a portion of a flood safety notice offered by the Will County Emergency Management Agency.

Resident John Tamblyn said he's lived in the area for 20 years and this season's ice jamming is the worst he's seen.

"You can see where it's hit the trees before and that's where the ice had been. ... So what happens is when the ice jams up the river keeps building up behind it until there's enough pressure to push it through," he explained.

Tamblyn expressed concern for the Warner Bridge, which is downstream from his home. Ice has formed to the level of the roadway, and Tamblyn said another surge of floodwater or ice could take the bridge out. In the meantime, oficials have temporarily closed the bridge.

"We are having structural engineers coming out to see if it's safe to cross. We worried about ice jams going up and over the bridge," said Dave Zinanni of the Kankakee County Sheriff's Department.

Officials say ice jam flooding can develop fast, and they're warning residents in low-lying areas to be ready to move to higher ground at a moment's notice.

"If all of our ice jams broke loose, it wouldn't be good for our county. Will County or Grundy County," Zinanni said.

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