DANVILLE – Rising waters forced officials to evacuate the homes off Hungry Hollow Road and place barricades in a number of locations. Flooding and the inability of storm sewers to handle the volume of water made some areas impassable.
The Danville Fire Department, at the request of the local Emergency Management Agency, notified the 30 to 40 residents of Morins Addition by going door-to-door beginning around 9:30 a.m. Monday.
"We can't ever force people out of their homes," said Phil Summerford, Vermilion County/Danville Emergency Management Agency assistant director. "But we can say, 'Here's what we recommend.'"
"The creek south of Morins floods before the river does," explained Ed Miller, EMA director. "Then the river and creek meet, and we have some real water going through there."
At 3 p.m, Miller was saying he could probably send everyone back home, but would rather be safe than sorry.
"I'd hate to see them get back there, and then the water picks up and we'd have to evacuate again," he said.
But by 6 p.m., the flood warning had expired and people were told they could return safely.
Summerford said other areas in Vermilion County that the agency watches closely are of a lesser priority because they are not populated. Areas such as Ellsworth Park, west of downtown; West Newell Road, near the Lake Vermilion wetlands; and Hidden Valley, off of Illinois 1 were being monitored.
"We're watching all of it very closely," Summerford said. "We've put up barricades in some areas, but people can still go around them."
"Places like West Newell, people are trying to go around the lake. We want to be sure when it gets dark someone doesn't get stranded out there. People don't realize that just two inches of fast, moving water can float a car."
Summerford said he would recommend that when people see barricades, they find another route.
"Right now all the heavier stuff (weather) is south of us," Summerford said. "Though we're really high now, we're okay because it's steady. It's when you get the heavy rains north of us that there's big problems."
He added places like Edgar and Clark counties south of Vermilion County were "getting what we've accumulated plus their own," and those areas may see more difficulty than what Danville has had.
Summerford said the rain is the results of spinoff weather caused by a tropical depression in the South.
"We should see some relief, and as long as we don't get significant amounts of rain, something like 2 inches in an hour, we should be fine," he said.
In Danville, Mark Cunningham, superintendent of streets and sewers, called out a five-man crew from 9 a.m. to noon, another two around 2 p.m. and said he may add another two to that before evening.
"We're doing our best to get things cleared and going," he said.
Meanwhile, Steve Lane, city parks and public property superintendent, was moving picnic tables and trash barrels to higher ground at Ellsworth Park. Gates blocking the entrance to the park were closed to vehicles and, by 2 p.m., water had risen to nearly football goal crossbars on the park's southwest side.
"That park is like a magnet when we get high water," Lane said. "People will drive down there until they have their front wheels right in the water. I don't know what it is about it, but they do."
Lane also shut off the main breakers to the park's electricity supply as an added precaution.
The Vermilion River is expected to crest at 21.6 feet this morning, according EMA spokesperson Linda Bolton.
"There are still some high areas in the tributaries, and they will continue to be watched, but we were very lucky because we were as dry as we were and the river was as low as it was," she said.
Rain over weekend causes flooding in St. Joseph
In St. Joseph, Mayor B.J. Hackler said the situation is improving today after flooding caused by several inches of rain over the weekend.
Hackler, who got back in town at 1 a.m. today Tuesday after a trip over the holiday weekend, said he had water in his own basement for just the "fourth or fifth time since I moved into that house in 1967."
"The boys are telling me we had 10 inches of rain," Hackler said.
The worst flooding was mostly on the east side of the community, from the north clear to the south, Hackler said.
There was also one 15-foot wide sinkhole reported in one back yard on the southwest side of town, but no damage was reported.
"We haven't had any calls of property damage," Hackler said.
"Things look better this morning," he said. "Some of the areas where water was standing have receded."
The reprieve from the steady rains will allow city officials and engineers to talk to drainage district officials about storm drainage, Hackler said.
"Whenever the Salt Fork gets out of its banks, the hydraulics pushes the water back into our tiles," Hackler said. "Thank goodness we had some retention ponds that were built in some of the subdivisions. That held some of the water until the tiles can take it."