Residents along Kankakee River advised of flooding from ice jam

A road closure sign warns drivers along Phelan Acres Road in Wilmington of possible flooding due to ice jams along the Kankakee River on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2023.  The Will County Emergency Management Agency and National Weather Service issued warnings Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Will County Emergency Management Agency and the city of Wilmington are advising residents along the Kankakee River about flash flood conditions because of ice jams on the river.

Flash flooding has been occurring in unincorporated Will County along the river since Monday, according to a news release from the Will County EMA.

“Our agency has been working with local agencies to support evacuation of residents who are in need of assistance in the impacted areas,” Will County EMA Director Allison Anderson said. “River conditions will be unpredictable throughout the week, and we are advising residents along the river to be prepared for rapidly changing conditions.

“Please do not hesitate to contact emergency officials if you need support with evacuating your property.”

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for the affected area. Freezing temperatures, which cause ice jams to occur, are expected until at least Monday, Jan. 22, when temperatures are expected to rise above freezing.

According to the NWS website, an ice jam is caused when pieces of floating ice carried with a stream’s current accumulate at any obstruction to the stream’s flow.

Geese camp out on ice along the Kankakee River in Wilmington near Kankakee River State Park on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2023.  The Will County Emergency Management Agency and National Weather Service issued flood warnings to residents in the area this week.

No evacuation orders have been issued at this time, but residents should be prepared for rapidly changing conditions, Will County officials said.

Residents in low-lying areas near the river should be prepared to evacuate with short notice, according to the Will County EMA, and anyone trapped by rising waters should call 911 immediately for assistance.

“Our first responders are currently going door to door to advise residents and businesses about the potential of flash flooding,” Wilmington Mayor Ben Dietz said. “Conditions can change rapidly, even when ice begins to melt. Please do not hesitate to contact 911 if you see water rising or require assistance.”

Wilmington residents are advised to continue to monitor conditions over the next two weeks and to be prepared to evacuate quickly if needed. Precautions include preparing a “to-go kit” for family members and pets, including clothing, important documents, medications and insurance information, according to the release.

“If rising waters are surrounding your home, business or vehicle, please do not try to pass through it on your own,” Anderson said. “Contact 911 immediately, and first responders will assist with your evacuation. Local officials will be monitoring conditions until the river water begins flowing normally again.”

The Wilmington Public Works Department has opened a sandbag-filling station in the parking lot of City Hall, 1165 S. Water St., that will be publicly accessible at all hours. Residents should be prepared to fill the bags themselves and transport them back to their property, according to the release.

Residents along the Kankakee River should take immediate precautions and dial 911 for evacuation assistance, the county EMA said.

The following areas are currently affected by flash flooding:

  • Phelan Acres subdivision
  • Cottage Road
  • Kelly and Phillips roads
  • Whalen Place
  • Blodgett Road
  • Macintosh Acres (Grundy County)

Other areas affected by the ice jams include Wilmington and Lakewood Shores.

During this time, rapidly changing river conditions are expected. Residents should remain alert and remain off the river as ice weakens and melts during this period.

“The safety of our residents is always our No. 1 priority, so we are urging residents to take precautions during these challenging weather conditions,” Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant said.

Will County EMA will continue coordinating with local and state agencies throughout the week, including the Wilmington Fire Department, Wilmington Police Department, Will County Sheriff’s Office, Wilmington ESDA, Wilmington School District 209U, Illinois State Police, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

For anyone who wants to receive real-time emergency alerts, visit

Michael Urbanec

Michael Urbanec

Michael Urbanec covers Grundy County and the City of Morris, Coal City, Minooka, and more for the Morris Herald-News

Shaw Local News Network

Shaw Local News Network

Shaw Local News Network provides local news throughout northern Illinois