Rains, Flooding Hit Central Illinois

A view from the bridge of County Road 1450N, south of St. Joseph.

A view from the bridge of County Road 1450N, south of St. Joseph.

Steve Hillberg

Rain throughout the Christmas holiday weekend has caused flooding in several parts of Illinois. On Monday, much of central Illinois was under a flood warning, a flash flood watch and a wind advisory into the afternoon, with specific flood warnings posted for the Vermilion River near Danville and the Sangamon River at Monticello.

Flooding Closes Main Road In Sidney

Flooding in Sidney, prompted the closure Monday afternoon of Main Street through most of the Champaign County town, as well as a portion to the west. The Champaign County Emergency Management Agency reports that Main Street, also known as County Road 1000 North, was closed from County Road 1900 East west of Sidney to Bryan Street in town, also known as County Road 2100 East, as of 1 PM Monday. Bill James with the EMA says the closure was ordered after water from a creek feeding into the Salt Fork of the Vermilion River flowed over a bridge in town.

Sidney Mayor Charles White says with the road closure, he's seeing little traffic in town.

"Even in town, there are a couple of bridges that are flowing over now," he said. Mayor White said he expects that many homes in Sidney have standing water in basements, but hopes that sump pumps are keeping up with the flow of water.

The Champaign County EMA also reported standing water on roads in several locations around the county: (Ch-16) 200N @ 1225E (Pesotum Area; (CH-15) 1000N @ 1725E (Philo Area; (CH-17) 500N @ 450E (Sadorus area); (CH-6) 200E @ 550N (Ivesdale Area); (CH-6) 200E @ 1300N (Seymore Area); (CH-14) 1400N @ 2225E (St Joseph area); (CH-23) 1000E @ 3200N (Dewey Area); and (CH-9) 3500N@ 2250E (Middlefork Area).

Flooding Leads To Curfew In Villa Grove

In Villa Grove, the flooding from the Embarras River caused city officials to continue an overnight curfew for Monday night. The curfew had initially been instituted for Sunday night.

Rick Bates, the owner of Rick's Country Market in Villa Grove, says business at his store was very light on Monday, and he was expecting to close the store early, as he did on Sunday.

Bates says his trip to the store from Tolono was easier than what some of  his co-workers were up against.

“So even the ones who actually live closer to the store – they have a harder time getting here than a guy like me – who lives 12 miles away," said Bates. "Just because a lot of the roads that are underwater, and some of these neighborhoods that are off the beaten path.”

Bates says two gas stations and a Dollar General store in Villa Grove also closed their doors early Sunday. He expected the Sunday night emergency curfew to be repeated Monday night.

Road Closures In Champaign

In Champaign, Public Works officials closed a portion of South Mattis Avenue in the southwest part of town, between Curtis Road and Kenny Avenue. And on the far north edge of the city, Farber Drive was closed, just south of Interstate Drive.

Bill James with the Champaign County Emergency Management Agency said the water could pose a problem in other parts of the county.

“We are seeing water ponding on a lot of the roads where there are low spots, and where the sewer and storm grates are blocked up by leaves and such,” said James.

James advises motorists to slow down if they see significant ponding on the road, and to turn around and seek an alternate route if they encounter flooding.

Flooding in Danville Area

Near Danville, the National Weather Service reports minor flooding on the Vermilion River, with moderate flooding in the forecast. The river level near Danville was measured at 21.8 feet at 12:45 PM on Monday, nearly four feet above the 18-foot flood stage. The river was expected to crest toward sunrise on Tuesday morning. The National Weather Service says a flood warning for the area continues until Thursday afternoon.

The News-Gazette reports that Ellsworth Park was completely flooded Monday by the nearby North Fork of the Vermilion River.

The American Red Cross has opened an emergency shelter in Danville's Bethel Luthern Church, 901 W. Fairchild, where warm meals, sleeping space and emotional support is being provided for thos affected by the flooding.

Freezing temperatures are also complicating the mix. The National Weather Service reported freezing rain in Bloomington-Normal and ice storms in Knox County Monday morning.

Ford, Iroquois, Livingston and Kankakee Counties were placed under a freezing rain advisory.

Meanwhile, wind busts reaching near 50 miles per hour were reported at Willard Airport near Champaign and the Peoria International Airport.

A multi-state winter storm warning reached into several counties in northwestern Illinois --- with light snow reported Monday morning in Rockford and Freeport.

State Response To Flooding

Governor Bruce Rauner's office reports that it activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield Monday morning, to make sure that state workers and equipment can be quickly deployed, if needed, to help local emergency responders deal with flooding and winter weather.

State officials say that so far, IDOT has helped local relief efforts by sending water pumps and hoses to Calhoun County; barricades for road closures in the Metro East area; sandbags and plastic for the Big Muddy Levee in Jackson County; and pumps and hoses for Schuyler County.

(UPDATE: Story updated as of 3:00 PM 12/28/15).

Story source: WILL