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Flooding south of Chicago forces evacuations, water rescues from rising river

Flash flooding in Illinois sparked emergency rescues along the Kankakee River Thursday evening and Friday, state and local officials confirmed. Photo courtesy of National Weather Service
Flash flooding in Illinois sparked emergency rescues along the Kankakee River Thursday evening and Friday, state and local officials confirmed. Photo courtesy of National Weather Service

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Flash flooding in Illinois sparked emergency rescues along the Kankakee River Thursday evening and Friday, state and local officials confirmed.

Authorities with the Will County Emergency Management Agency and City of Wilmington responded to calls for rescue after the river's water levels increased rapidly because of heavy rain and melting ice.

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At least 14 people were successfully rescued from the water after flooding in parts of the city's downtown area while authorities opened a temporary emergency shelter.

The Wilmington Police Department warned drivers to avoid certain roads through the city of 5,600 people.

"Do not drive through water. Turn around," the department said in a warning on Facebook.

Wilmington is located approximately 60 miles south of Chicago.

Water levels along the river began rising Thursday evening and continued through the night.

A Flash Flood Warning remains in effect for Will County and neighboring Grundy County through Saturday morning.

Approximately 200 homes in close proximity to the river were at risk of flood damage, officials said Friday.

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"Flooding in downtown Wilmington is currently isolated to the North and South Islands. However, ice remains solid on the Kankakee River and water levels are steadily increasing due to water runoff and melting ice. The ice jam on the river has not fully broken and there is the potential for flooding throughout the day as ice begins breaking apart at a rapid pace," the Will County Emergency Management Agency said in a statement.

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