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School Officials Worry Illinois Flooding May Impact Classes

ROUND LAKE, Ill. (AP) — Officials in one Illinois school district are concerned that flooding from recent rainfall will impact the start of classes next month.

Bookshelves in W.J. Murphy Elementary School's library are completely covered by water, The Chicago Tribune reported (http://trib.in/2tWOAlo ).

"The library is really our epicenter of our whole building, and obviously, it's a total loss," district operations executive director Shelia Duhon told the newspaper.

The gym, a music room and computer room also are flooded at the school in Lake County's Round Lake, northwest of Chicago and south of Wisconsin's state line.

Duhon said computers were under water and the school's computer server room in the basement was flooded. Water also stood in four fourth-grade classrooms.

Heavy rainfall that hit the Midwest on Wednesday knocked out power to thousands and closed roadways. Power outages caused by flooding forced the evacuation of Lake Forest Hospital in suburban Chicago. Power was restored that night, but the hospital will remain closed until at Tuesday at the earliest, according to Northwestern Medicine spokeswoman Kim Waterman.

State officials have said that some 6,800 structures — including homes, businesses and other buildings such as garages — have been affected by the "unprecedented" flooding. The damage was expected to worsen this weekend as water flows down rivers into the state from Wisconsin.

The Des Plaines river at Gurnee was expected to crest at a record 12.2 feet on Saturday night, Lake County spokesman Alex Carr said.

Red Cross shelters were set up in two locations in the county, he said.

"There are still road closures throughout the county," Carr added.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday issued a state disaster proclamation for Lake, McHenry and Kane counties.

The flooding has forced the temporary closure of the 389-room Lincolnshire Marriott Resort hotel and its live theater, which are located along the Des Plaines river. The hotel's message line says it will not be accepting reservations until July 19 and performances at the theater are cancelled until at least Sunday. The resort also has a professional-level golf course that was inundated.

At W.J. Murphy Elementary, the water had receded a bit by Friday, but can't be pumped outside the building until the water around the school is gone.

About 500 students attend the school and classes are to start in late August.

"We've contacted other districts, and we may have enough space at our other elementary schools to absorb the students," Duhon said.

But once the water goes away, a structural engineering may have to look at Murphy, she added.

"The school has had some water issues in the past," Duhon said. "It's never been like this."

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