Nightly News   |  April 18, 2013

Massive flooding swallows Illinois streets

Much of the Midwest has been affected by a big spring storm that left flooding in Illinois. Residents in Gurnee, Ill., said it’s the worst flooding they’ve seen in a decade and officials are warning it could be a week or two before flood levels significantly drop.  NBC’s John Yang report.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> take a look at the national radar and look at the front cutting north to south and moving to the east. it's a huge weather system stretching from the mexican border all the way into canada, dumping torrents of rain, snow, hail, spawning tornadoes along the way. it's left a lot of damage behind. the chicago area particularly hard-hit. nbc's john yang is in lisle, outside of chicago . good evening.

>> reporter: good evening. the radar says there is more rain on the way. across the region rivers are still rising as forecasters are predicting record levels and massive flooding. chicago streets turned into rivers and lanes of major expressways shut down as heavy rain fell faster than storm sewers could carry it away. neighborhoods quickly flooded. in lisle, firefighters set out in boats to answer calls for help.

>> we had to be prepared not only today but over the next several days for flooding in different parts of our state.

>> reporter: on chicago's south side a car drove into a sinkhole which eventually swallowed two parked cars. in gurney, residents have been sandbagging homes and businesses.

>> we have been here about ten years. this is actually the worst it's been.

>> reporter: the river is expected to crest tomorrow morning at 11 1/2 feet, a record. officials are encouraging residents along the river to evacuate.

>> it could be a week or two before flood levels significantly drop.

>> reporter: parts of iowa and illinois have gotten more than seven inches of rain and totals approaching six inches are not uncommon. in south dakota the storm system brought snow and temperatures in the 20s. warmer weather in oklahoma spawned at least four tornadoes but no one was seriously injured. back in chicago , sump pumps are hot items.

>> we've got the last one here. we got one in the front of the store. everyone behind us, i'm sure they didn't get one.

>> reporter: cynthia gill and her family moved to lisle just last week. now their home is an island.

>> my daughter floated on a mattress today.

>> reporter: mike seidel says the danger has not passed.

>> although the rain and storms will end tonight in the midwest all the water has to go somewhere. it is going to run into the rivers and many of those will go over their banks into flood stage as we head towards the weekend.

>> reporter: of course thunderstorms means trouble in the area. at chicago o'hare airport, more than 600 flights cancelled because of weather. brian?

>> john yang reporting on the weather for us tonight from lisle, illinois. john, thanks.