Evacuations underway after ice jam break on Kankakee River causes significant flooding

Authorities were evacuating homes Friday in northeastern Illinois after an ice jam break along the Kankakee River led to major flooding that was threatening about 200 homes.

A flash flood warning was in effect until mid-morning Saturday for Will and Grundy counties, specifically Wilmington, about 50 miles southwest of downtown Chicago.

An ice jam break caused the Kankakee River to rise about 3 feet, threatening areas between Wilmington and Phelan Acres, officials said.

Officials said about 12 miles of ice jammed up the river and as it melts, it not only is causing flooding along the river, but remaining chunks of ice could damage buildings and other structures as they float downstream.

Will County officials said Friday morning that the flooding occurred “suddenly" and alerts were sent to residents on their phones “advising them of the rising water levels and the need to evacuate.”

The Will County Emergency Management Agency was working to evacuate the area, where officials said about 200 homes along the Kankakee River are at risk and two roads were closed until further notice.

Resident Daniel Beck was among 14 people who were evacuated from their homes to a temporary shelter and he told WBBM-TV that the flooding was “devastating all these homes.”

Another resident, Julie Schmitke, said she had to be carried during her evacuation because she only has one leg.

"They had to carry me to a drier room, and I was just waiting there for the ambulance to come and transport me here,” Schmitke said.

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