The City of Wilmington and the Will County Emergency Management Agency are advising residents of potential flash flood conditions due to ongoing ice jams on the Kankakee River. A Flash Flood Watch is in effect until temperatures rise above freezing and the river ice has fully melted.
No evacuation orders have been issued at this time, but residents should be prepared for rapidly changing conditions. Residents in low-lying areas near the river should be prepared to evacuate with short notice. Anyone trapped by rising waters should call 911 immediately for assistance.
“Our first responders are currently going door-to-door to advise residents and businesses about the potential of flash flooding,” said City of Wilmington Mayor Ben Dietz. “Conditions can change rapidly, even when ice begins to melt. Please do not hesitate to contact 911 if you see water rising or require assistance.”
Wilmington residents are advised to continue to monitor conditions over the next two weeks and to be prepared to evacuate quickly if needed. Precautions include preparing a “to go kit” for family members and pets, including clothing, important documents, medications, and insurance information.
“If rising waters are surrounding your home, business, or vehicle, please do not try to pass through it on your own,” said Will County EMA Director Allison Anderson. “Contact 911 immediately and first responders will assist with your evacuation. Local officials will be monitoring conditions until the river water begins flowing normally again.”
The Wilmington Public Works Department has opened a sandbag filling station in the parking of City Hall (1165 S. Water St.) that will be publicly accessible at all hours. Residents should be prepared to fill the bags themselves and transport them back to their property.
Flash flooding has occurred throughout the week along the Kankakee River as ice jams formed at various sections, stretching east and west of Interstate 55. Freezing temperatures, which cause ice jams to occur, are expected until at least Monday, January 22 when temperatures are expected to rise above freezing. Flash floods can still occur after the ice begins to thaw, with free-flowing water becoming unpredictable.
Will County EMA has coordinated with Constellation Energy to activate a siphon of warm water from the Dresden Energy Center cooling lake this morning to accelerate the melting of ice on the river.
“The safety of residents is paramount,” said Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant. “Local and state agencies will continue coordinating to support anyone who needs assistance in responding to flash flood conditions.”
For any resident wanting to receive real-time emergency alerts from Will County EMA, please visit www.willcountyema.org/signup.