First responders help Lake County residents escape rising waters

  • Jorge Morales and his 10-year-old son Ariel work Wednesday morning to clear the drains in front of his home on Lincoln Avenue and West Division Street in Mundelein.

    Jorge Morales and his 10-year-old son Ariel work Wednesday morning to clear the drains in front of his home on Lincoln Avenue and West Division Street in Mundelein. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Round Lake Fire Department personnel help a Round Lake Beach resident who had been trapped in his home Wednesday by quickly rising floodwaters on the 100 block of Wildwood Drive.

    Round Lake Fire Department personnel help a Round Lake Beach resident who had been trapped in his home Wednesday by quickly rising floodwaters on the 100 block of Wildwood Drive. courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times

  • Cars were stuck in floodwaters Wednesday along North Avenue in Round Lake Beach.

    Cars were stuck in floodwaters Wednesday along North Avenue in Round Lake Beach. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 7/12/2017 9:48 PM

The intense storms that swept through Lake County late Tuesday kept Reddy Munnangi awake well into the night, so he wasn't eager to answer the door to his Mundelein apartment when someone knocked at 5 a.m. Wednesday.

It wasn't until a couple of hours later when Munnangi and roommate Raja Reddy woke up to discover floodwaters up to their car windows that they understood what the knocking was all about.

 

Fortunately, the Mundelein first responders who'd first visited earlier in the morning were still around to help them out.

"The rescue people told us everyone else was out (of the apartment building), and then they saved us," Munnangi said.

Munnangi and Reddy were among about 50 Mundelein residents evacuated early Wednesday as rising waters engulfed their homes. Several were seniors who rode out in boats dragged by first responders.

Fire departments in the Round Lake area conducted similar operations throughout the day. Tony Breuscher, fire marshal for the Greater Round Lake Fire Protection, said the department rescued 75 to 100 people from homes using their boat, another borrowed from Grayslake and a row boat donated by a resident.

Later Wednesday, a power outage at Lake Forest Hospital prompted the transfer of about 70 patients to nearby medical centers. Power was restored about 8:45 p.m., but the hospital will be closed to clinical operations Thursday, according to a statement from Northwestern Medicine.

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The hospital staff is working with Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the Lake Forest Fire Department and other hospitals to safely move patients, according to a statement from Lake Forest Hospital. Hospital representatives said they will release more information as it becomes available.

The majority of the rescues in the Round Lake area were in and around Ivy Court south of Rollins Road and west of Hainesville Road. Those taken to safety included disabled residents and families with small children. There were no reported injuries.

"They were just stuck in their houses," he said. "We were busy, but it went smooth."

Lake County residents hit with the estimated 6 to 8 inches of rainfall Tuesday could see another half-inch of rain overnight, according to a Wednesday afternoon news release from Lake County.

County officials will continue to monitor the area's bodies of water as river levels are expected to rise.

In the meantime, Red Cross opened three reception centers to help residents displaced by flooding: Magee Middle School, 500 N. Cedar Lake Road, Round Lake; Foss Park Golf Course, 3124 Argonne Dr., North Chicago; and The Chapel, 25270 IL Route 60, Grayslake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Dozens of streets in Round Lake Beach were closed as dips in the terrain filled with brown, murky water dotted with debris.

That included a section of Clarendon Drive, where Glenn Shoreman has lived for 26 years. Four feet of water filled his basement as he and his family struggled to move furniture to dry locations.

"We started at 3 o'clock in the morning and we're not done yet," he said midafternoon Wednesday.

Shoreman's sister, Heather, was awakened about 2:15 a.m. by floating water bottles hitting her in the head in a downstairs bedroom.

"She was screaming," he said.

Jason Tucker said water was up to the doorknobs in his home on East End Avenue in Round Lake Beach. His landlord worked through the day to get the water out.

"They have three pumps going, but they push (the water) into the backyard. It's a big circle, you know? Crazy," he said.

Residents throughout the area said it was the worst flooding they have seen in decades, if ever.

"I'm 6 feet tall and the water was up to my waist," Reddy said. "If I was half as tall I would have drowned."

Though contact with the floodwater might be hard for residents to avoid, contaminants in the water could lead serious health and safety risks, according to the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center. People should prevent children and pets from playing in or drinking water left in puddles or flooded areas, and should avoid trying to cross flooded streams or rivers, since floodwaters even in areas of standing water can appear calm and shallow can be dangerous, according to the health department.

Because Reddy and Munnangi don't know anyone else in the area, they were welcomed into the Mundelein police station, where they were joined by others displaced by the flooding. Many were seniors living at the Lake Manor Apartments across the street.

The Mundelein Fire Department used a boat big enough for six people to transport Lake Manor residents to safety at the station. Firefighters pulled the boats through the floodwaters.

"As odd as it may seem, when the floodwaters come you often can't tell what is under the surface," Public Safety Director Eric Guenther said. "In some places the manhole covers would come up, so if you walked on one of those open holes you'd be in a world of hurt."

Guenther said the storm was particularly challenging because no one predicted how much water there would be and that it would come in three waves.

"After the first rain event all of the drainage systems in Lake County were full, and then there was two more rain events," he said.

Munnangi and Reddy didn't expect to be back in their home Wednesday night but hoped to get in to grab essentials like an extra set of clothes and cellphone chargers. They passed the time at the police station Wednesday playing chess and Chinese checkers with other displaced residents.

"They've been taking good care of us," Reddy said.

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