CHICAGO – Standing water on Chicago-area expressways turned what should have been an easy Saturday morning drive into a soggy, snarled mess after heavy rains across the Midwest closed roads, stranded residents and punched a hole through an Iowa dam.
In Chicago, officials say more than 7 inches of rain fell early Saturday, inundating the sewer system and overwhelming waterways. Water covered portions of several Chicago interstates and the commuter train tracks that run along them, leading crews to divert traffic and call in bus shuttles. Portions of Interstate 290 west of downtown were closed for several hours.
West of Chicago in suburban Westchester, crews in boats were searching for people who were stranded in their flooded homes or trapped in cars under viaducts.
In eastern Iowa, the Lake Delhi dam failed as rising floodwater from the Maquoketa River ate a 30-foot-wide hole in the earthen dam, causing water to drop 45 feet to the river below and threatening the small town of Hopkinton.
Lake Delhi was created in the 1920s by damming the Maquoketa River. The resort area now has about 700 cabins and homes.
Areas below and above the dam had been evacuated after heavy rain pushed the river to 23.92 feet – more than 2 feet above its previous record of 21.66 feet in 2004.
Jack Klaus, a spokesman with the Delaware County emergency management office, said warning sirens sounded in Hopkinton as water began to surround homes Saturday afternoon.
“There’s going to be significant losses of property there,” Klaus said.