East Central Illinois Braces for Heavy Rainfall
By Jeff Bossert
Champaign’s Public Works Department is bracing for heavy rainfall and winds as the remnants of Isaac hit the region this weekend.
To prepare, the city has swept streets and cleaned viaducts on areas bordered by major streets to remove debris that may cause flooding.
Administrative Services Supervisor Kris Koester says the hardest part is not knowing how fast a possible 6 to 10 inches of rain will hit the area.
"If it starts coming pretty quickly, then it creates more of a problem on the detention basins, and the streets that typically have flooding problems," he said. "We've just been keeping track of the forecast, and paying attention to what's happening in other places. That's how we make our decisions."
The city is also asking residents to assist with preparation by clearing inlets of debris in their neighborhood, and to be mindful of driving near viaducts during heavy rain.
With updated forecasts, Koester says his staff will meet again Friday morning to determine whether additional crews are needed.
Any flooding of streets should be reported to the Public Works Department at 403-4700.
Urbana's fire and police departments are issuing similar warnings, asking residents to look out for standing water, avoid flooded viaducts, and to notify emergency responders of downed power lines, trees, and other obstructions in the road.
Danville's Public Works Department says city crews will be on call and dispatched for response to water in low-lying areas. The city says resident assistance is appreciated in clearing debris from drains, but staff requests wearing appropriate clothing and personal protective equipment.
Meanwhile, Director of the Champaign County Emergency Management Agency says it’s still taking a wait-and-see approach as it prepares to address flooded roadways and creeks.
John Carlson says the hours leading up to Friday night will tell a lot as to whether the remnants of Isaac will have much of an impact on East Central Illinois.
He says the latest forecast from the National Weather Service has rain starting tomorrow night, with the heaviest rainfall mid-afternoon on Saturday, after people leaving the University of Illinois football game.
"If the storm slows down, any of the heavier activity would occur later in the evening on Saturday, which of course would be an advantage with the game being over, and a lot of the Saturday traffic would be over at that time."
More than anything, Carlson says motorists and particularly those in rural areas need to use common sense with 6 to 10 inches of rainfall.
"Because of the drought, and it's been so dry, (The National Weather Service) says the water would be spilling out onto the roads." he said.
Meanwhile, University of Illinois Urbana Chancellor Phyllis Wise asks students to take caution around campus.
In a mass e-mail, she urges anyone not registered for the emergency campus Illini Alert messaging to sign up at http://emergency.illinois.edu.