PRINCETON — City crews and residents from around Bureau County are pumping their way out of more than 6 inches of rain in less than 14 hours.
About 8 a.m Thursday, Princeton City Manager Jeff Clawson said the streets of North Euclid Avenue, North Church Street, North Chestnut Street and Dover Road had areas with 3 to 4 feet of water standing on them. The city put up "Road Closed" signs on those areas. People who are driving anywhere in the area are advised to drive carefully and avoid the flooded areas, he said.
In addition, Clawson said the entire town has definitely experienced the heavy rains. The flooded areas could change and increase as the rain continues, he said.
Also, there are "a ton of houses" with water in the basement, Clawson said. He's gotten at least 50 calls from residents since around 3 a.m. Residents are encouraged to not go into their basements but to call the fire department and someone will come to the house to check out the basement to make sure it is safe to enter. City crews can advise people, pull electric meters and check for shortages, and come back later, if needed, Clawson said.
By 3:30 a.m. Thursday, Princeton had received at least 6.5 inches of rain in the last 14 hours, and the rain has just kept coming, Clawson said.
Princeton Mayor Keith Cain has also been out for several hours to monitor the flooding conditions in the city.
Cain said the city systems have not failed, but they just can't keep up with the amount of rain the city has received. The city can't build a system big enough to keep up with the amount of rain received. Even the rain from a few years ago during Homestead Festival weekend wasn't this heavy, he said.
When asked if there are certain areas of the county which have been hit hardest, Bureau County Highway Engineer John Gross said there are too many areas to list. The flooding is widespread, and the water is still rising, he said.
The highway department has put out every caution sign it has to warn motorists, Gross said. People should avoid driving through roads that have been flooding, he said.
In addition, there is so much water out there that it's too soon to even tell the extent of damage to the roads, Gross said. There will no doubt be several washed-out areas, and they won't be able to be repaired immediately, he said.
Around 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson confirmed he was hearing numerous cases of water on roads and basement flooding around the county, but not any accidents related to the weather conditions.
He said one caller did report a car fully emerged in water on Route 26 near Interstate 180, between Princeton and Bureau. He confirmed the call wasn't life threatening, and the driver had left the vehicle. Thompson advised all drivers to use caution in the weather conditions and to keep an eye out for water on the roads. If a driver approaches an area with water over the road, the driver should find another route and not try to drive through the water. A lot of times drivers underestimate the water level, attempt to drive through, flood their engine, kill their car and become stranded, the sheriff said.
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