Flooding Pummels Chicago’s South Suburbs

Rainfall battered the Chicago area overnight and into Wednesday morning, with flooding impacting the south suburbs in particular - shutting down roads, closing schools and even prompting emergency rescues. 

A Winter Weather Advisory was issued for several southwest counties Tuesday evening, with freezing rain and sleet making for a difficult evening commute. That advisory was later expanded across multiple counties, predicting total snow and sleet accumulations of up to half an inch and ice accumulations of up to one-tenth of an inch in some areas. 

The advisory was in effect until 3 a.m. for Lee and LaSalle counties, but remained in place for Grundy, Livingston and Ford counties through 6 a.m. Wednesday. 

"The ice will result in difficult travel conditions, including during the morning commute," the alert warns. 

Officials in south suburban Ford Heights encouraged residents to stay inside, writing on Facebook "the streets are not safe for vehicles or people" and offering emergency aid with boats.

Ford Heights closed Cottage Grove School, Medgar Evers School, Tidye Phillips School and District #169 as a precaution amid major flooding, in an effort to keep people from traveling in the dangerous road conditions. 

In nearby Dolton, first responders rescued a woman sitting on top of her flooded car, with video of the encounter showing firefighters pulling the stranded driver down from her minivan and carrying her through waist-high water.

The Cook County Department of Transportation closed some roads on Tuesday, largely in the south suburbs, due to flooding. Those streets include: 

  • Sauk Trail – Western Avenue to Ashland Avenue in Bloom Township
  • 108th Avenue – 159th Street to 161st Street in Orland Park
  • 135th Street – Southwest Highway to LaGrange Road in Orland Park
  • Midlothian Turnpike – Cicero Avenue to Laramie Avenue in Crestwood
  • Kedzie Avenue – 135th Street to 139th Street in Robbins
  • Will-Cook Road – 151st Street to 159th Street in Orland Park
  • 179th Street – Southwest Highway to Marley Creek Boulevard in Orland Park
  • Vollmer Road just west of Western Avenue at Flossmoor

A Flood Watch remained in effect through 6 a.m. Wednesday, with the National Weather Service noting that several inches of rain combined with higher temperatures - accelerating snow melt - would lead to flooding of streams and rivers. 

With the ground still frozen, officials feared that water would not absorb but instead run off, exacerbating flooding conditions, particularly along the Little Calumet River and the Kankakee River. 

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