Rantoul dries out after flooding — in excess of 4 inches of rain in a little more than an hour

The area of Alexander Drive and Cheryl Drive was flooded by Thursday's heavy rain — a common sight in many areas of Rantoul.

RANTOUL — Streets turned into lakes, basements flooded (some with feces), cars stalled. Water was everywhere in Rantoul Thursday as a storm dropped more than 4 inches of rain in a little more than an hour on the village.

The angst was palpable when the afternoon downpour subsided and cleanup began.

Village Administrator Scott Eisenhauer said village officials fielded a lot of phone calls.

“We recognize when you get 4 inches of rain in 75 minutes, there is no system that we have built or that our residents could afford that could handle what is in essence over a 100-year flood,” Eisenhauer said.

The village stormwater system, which is designed to handle a typical 10-year flood, was overwhelmed.

“In 75 minutes we multiplied that 10 times.

“Our system and most systems are never designed for that kind of a load.”

He said residents would howl even louder if they had to pay for a system that could handle what happened Thursday.

The village has undertaken a number of stormwater projects to alleviate flooding issues over the years — having spent nearly $8 million since 2001. Otherwise, the flooding would have been worse. And last year the village agreed to buy three houses on Illinois Drive for a total of $285,000 that were chronically flooded.

That area was hit again, Eisenhauer said, as were many other areas of town.

Traffic on U.S. 136 found a different way to go east or west due to the flooding of the viaduct under the railroad tracks.

“We recognize our system was not ever designed to handle that kind of a load,” Eisenhauer said.

One problem with the storm was it was a crawler — it refused to move away after hovering over Rantoul.  

Strong winds accompanied the storm, blowing down branches. There was also pea-sized hail.

Eisenhauer said at the Hap Parker Family Aquatic Center, deck chairs and a life guard stand were blown into the pool, and water covered the benches out front.

Drivers of some vehicles, rightfully, thought twice about trying to navigate some flooded roads. Some vehicles stalled out. But there were no reports of injuries, Police Chief Tony Brown said.

Water shot inches high out of some manholes.

Power was lost to an area of South Maplewood Drive after being lost due to a storm the day before on North Maplewood.

Crews were out to remedy the problem.

A tenant on Mitchell Court reported their apartment was flooded.

Another resident said feces and toilet paper came up into their basement.

Some parked cars were in danger of flood damage from the high water.

Violet and Daniel LaPine live on Alexander Drive in southeast Rantoul, where water flooded the street. Violet said the amount of rain wasn’t as bad as that received from the remants of a hurricane in 2008, but it was close.

She said it appears a vacant house at the bottom of the street sustained water damage.

“We could see they had water all the way up into their yard,” LaPine said. “It’s probably bad in that house, but there’s nobody there.”

Neighbors across the street had problems because of the power outage. Their sump pump wouldn’t work.

She said friends who work at Christian Life Church, 300 N. Maplewood Drive, were almost trapped at the church because of flooding in the street.

Violet said she enjoyed the water.

“I had fun. I put on my wellies. It was actually kind of fun (walking in the water).”

dhinton@rantoulpress.com