Residents along the banks of the Little Calumet River started leaving home Sunday as continued heavy rains and record-setting river levels started to overtake some neighborhoods.
Bridges over the Little Calumet River were closed Sunday morning at Kennedy, Columbia and Hohman avenues, and the Borman Expressway (Interstate 80/94) was closed because of standing water between Calumet and Cline avenues in Hammond.
The Indiana Department of Transportation reported its personnel had been pumping water off of the Borman Expressway near the Kennedy Avenue interchange since Saturday night.
As early as 7:15 a.m. Sunday, local police and street crews closed the Columbia Avenue bridge that links Munster and Hammond as the Little Cal reached a level of 15.86 feet. Hammond crews built a sand barrier across the road and Munster crews were stacking sand bags. By 2:30 p.m., National Weather Service statistics recorded the river level at 17.32 feet, surpassing the record crest of 17.03 feet recorded on Nov. 28, 1990. Shortly thereafter, when Sunday's rain started letting up, the river's level started dropping.
Most of Northwest Indiana and southeast suburban Chicago have received 7-10 inches of rain from Friday to noon Sunday.
Hammond City Council President Dan Repay said displaced residents -- including those of the low-lying Schleicher neighborhood -- could seek shelter today at the Hammond Civic Center.
"There's no food there, but the Red Cross is there helping," Repay said.
Across the river in Munster, school buses were evacuating residents from the area near Columbia Avenue, River Drive and Broadmoor, transporting them to higher ground at Munster High School.
The Little Cal levee had been breached near Monaldi Drive -- midway between Calumet and Columbia -- on Munster's northern edge. Water was threatening homes north of Broadmoor from Calumet eastward beyond Columbia.
Flooding wasn't isolated to the northern end of Lake County.
At 12:30 p.m., Merrillville emergency responders were asking for assistance from Crown Point to evacuate the Broadmoor subdivision. And Schererville officials this afternoon were evacuating the Auburn Meadows neighborhood, as flood waters have reached into many homes there.
In addition to the Borman closure, INDOT reported these roads closed:
-- Ind. 2 between I-65 and U.S. 231 in Lake County;
-- Ind. 2 in Lowell;
-- U.S. 20/35 under the Ind. 212 overpass in LaPorte County.