Little Cal, Kankakee rivers hold their own

2014-04-03T19:45:00Z 2014-04-03T23:22:09Z Little Cal, Kankakee rivers hold their ownMelanie Csepiga Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
April 03, 2014 7:45 pm  • 

The recent spate of rain is filling streets and rushing through ditches, but those overseeing the Little Calumet and Kankakee rivers said levels are fine for now.

"We're in good shape, in a safe, comfortable position," Dan Repay, executive director of the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission, said Thursday.

Repay said he spent the afternoon traveling along the river to look for trouble spots.

"There are not that many blockages, a few trees from Mother Nature," Repay said.

According to the National Weather Service, the Little Calumet at Munster was at 9.64 feet Thursday afternoon. Flood stage is 12 feet.

Repay said it would take a hard, sustained rain to make a difference.

Farther south, Jody Melton, executive director of the Kankakee River Basin Commission, said there currently is no reason for concern, even though the weather service issued a flood warning for the Kankakee at Shelby, affecting Lake and Newton counties.

"There's no problem, not a severe threat," Melton said. "It is going to go back up."

On Thursday afternoon, the weather service reported the Kankakee at 9.24 feet at Shelby. Flood stage is 9 feet, but the levee protects those living in that area to more than 11 feet.

The weather service reported minor flooding already is occurring and is expected to continue as the river rises.

Forecasts show the river will climb to near 10.5 feet by Saturday afternoon and then begin falling.

Melton said residents in the Shady Shores area of Shelby have had some problems because the bayou there currently is higher than the river. The Lake County Highway Department is on standby for sandbags, he said. Runoff in the watershed is coming faster than usual, he said.

"The crazy thing is we get a flood normally at this time," Melton said.

Instead, the snow melted in a timely fashion this year, allowing the Kankakee to take it all in, he said.

Rainfall Wednesday night into Thursday above the Kankakee Basin ranged between 0.5 and 1.5 inches. An extra 1 to 2 inches of rain was possible by Friday morning.

Drivers who encounter a flooded road are advised to turn around and use an alternate route.

Flash flooding can happen after just a few inches of heavy rainfall, according to Indiana State Police.

Safe driving tips from police include:

• Always carry a cellphone and charger.

• Pay attention to local media reports and heed warnings issued by the National Weather Service.

• Never drive around barricades at water crossings.

• Reduce speed and never enter flowing water.

• If you end up in water, abandon your vehicle, exit through a window and climb on top of the car. Call 911 and "ride the top like a boat," because vehicles usually float for several minutes.

Times staff writer Vanessa Renderman contributed to this report.

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