Flooding drenches area, closes Oak Park schools


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Oak Park saw about 5 inches of rain in a 24-hour period — and more was still coming Thursday evening. 

Village President David Pope said between noon Wednesday and early afternoon Thursday, the rain gauge at the village's public works center recorded 4.79 inches. A majority of that came early Thursday. 

River Forest, however, got hit much harder with flooding as multiple roads were closed Thursday. Governor Pat Quinn visited the village and took a tour with Village President John Rigas to assess damages. Quinn declared a state of emergency in Illinois as many communities across the Chicago region were affected. 

Residents and volunteers kept busy throughout the day in River Forest sandbagging in flood-prone neighborhoods. Crews worked to build up barriers in the most affected areas as the river level was anticipated to hit an all-time record. 

As of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, the Des Plaines River's rate of rise had slowed and was at 18.31 feet. At 16.5 feet water starts flooding Chicago Avenue and at approximately 18 feet, water will start to push into the West Lake area, according to an update on the Village of River Forest's website.

Road closures in River Forest include: North Avenue is closed between Thatcher and Harlem; Lake Street is closed at Thatcher; Division is closed from Forest to Thatcher. Chicago Avenue is also closed at Thatcher Avenue due to flooding. It will remain closed until further notice. Public Works crews have created a barrier to help protect residential areas from flood waters. Check back to OakPark.com for more updates.

For impacted River Forest residents, flood debris may be placed on the parkway to be collected. 

Evening activities canceled 

As rains continue to pour across the area District 97 has canceled all classes in Oak Park today. River Forest schools and OPRF are both staying open. Fenwick High School in Oak Park and Trinity High School in River Forest have also canceled class.

D97 posted this on its website that all classses and afterschool activities have been canceled. The district's administration building will also be closed.

"We apologize for the delay in communicating this information to you, but we just received notification from our transportation company that the current weather conditions will prohibit them from providing service today. We encourage you to continue monitoring email, the district's family of websites and the local media for updates about the weather and its impact on district operations," the message reads. 

Despite the heavy rains ComEd reports less than five customers affected by power outages in Oak Park and no outages in River Forest as of 8 a.m.

D90 schools cancel afternoon, evening activities

In River Forest, schools were open Thursday April 18 but all afternoon and evening activities have been cancelled, says D90 spokesperson Tari Marshall.

The two elementary schools and one middle school, as well as the central office, will close immediately once all students are safely picked up, Marshall said.

D90 has a total enrollment of roughly 1,300 students.

Marshall said Willard Elementary and Roosevelt Middle School had normal enrollment Thursday while Lincoln Elementary had 14 students out. Nine D90 students who receive off-campus services were still at the River Forest Community Center as of early Thursday afternoon, due to school buses unable to pick them up, Marshall said.
Those students will remain at the center until their parents pick them up, Marshall said.

OPRF cancels most after-school activites today

OPRF plans to close the building at 5 p.m. today (April 18), the school announced this afternoon. After-school activities are cancelled except for boys track and Orchesis rehearsal, because both groups have major events scheduled for Friday April 19, says OPRF spokesperson Karin Sullivan.

OakPark.com will continue to provide updates throughout the day as more information on the storm's effects become available.

If you have tips or photos you'd like to share with us email them to digital@oakpark.com or tweet us @OakPark.

Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Sewers aren't sexy  

Posted: April 19th, 2013 10:24 AM

Anan, if you're reading, let's get to work on some infrastructure improvements! Roads & sewers, please.


Posted: April 19th, 2013 6:35 AM

Members of the Village Board stated that the taxpayers should not pay for a newer sewer system in north east oak park. And that the system that is over 100 years old will have to do. In respsonse to sewage in basements, Pope advised that basements should not be used as liveable space. Basement flooding is a yearly occurrence in this area now.

Steve from River Forest  

Posted: April 18th, 2013 6:09 PM

The Dude speaks wisdom peppered with humor. Not the day to drill down into taxes and capital improvements.

Dan Lauber from River Forest  

Posted: April 18th, 2013 12:08 PM

Gimme a break. Can't rely on the village's sewer system? I don't think you want to pay the cost in much higher taxes to build a sewer system that can withstand this onslaught. While we've got old sewer systems in both villages, they do the job as well as can be expected (and soon better on River Forest's west side if we're willing to pay the cost).

The dude  

Posted: April 18th, 2013 12:03 PM

Another 100 year storm coming? Oh wait, it's only been 2 years. Maybe it's time to raise all out houses on stilts, like in Thailand, since we can't depend upon the villages sewer system.

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