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First Ice, Next Floods?

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First Ice, Next Floods?

September flooding devastated Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood. The city is planning to stack 30,000 sandbags there by Saturday morning. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)

Crews across the Chicago area spent much of Friday clearing ice from streets and highways after a morning with numerous vehicle collisions. As temperatures rose into the 40s, ice and snow melted. With expected heavy rains and even warmer temperatures Saturday, another threat looms.

The National Weather Service has issued flood watches and warnings across the Midwest.

“We’ve asked our residents to clean out all the sewers to make sure the water runs freely,” says Tony Arredia, the mayor of northwest suburban Des Plaines. “And we’re also having our people go out to check some of the low-lying areas to make sure their sewers are working properly.”

Arredia says crews are also filling sandbags in case the Des Plaines River overflows, like it did after heavy rains in September.

In Chicago, the city’s Water Management Department says all its crews spent Friday clearing catch basins, the curbside gutters that lead water to sewers. John Spatz, the department’s commissioner, is urging city residents to do their part. “If they see the water starting to [pool] on the street, if they know where the catch basin is and if they can clear a path, that would help us avoid possible flooding.”

Spatz says the department is calling in more than 100 extra employees tonight. The plan is to put 30,000 sandbags along the Chicago River’s North Branch to keep it from spilling into Albany Park. Flooding from the September downpours covered several blocks in that neighborhood.

Update: Flash flood watch in effect tonight for Chicago region (NOAA)
Related: Updates from the National Weather Service for Illinois and Indiana.

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