LAKE FOREST — Teams from the Lake Forest Fire Department rescued eight people and two dogs from five cars trapped in flood waters October 14 on Deerpath Road near Highway 41 in Lake Forest.
Though some of the people rescued were chilled from the water, no one was injured or transported to the hospital, according to Lake Forest Battalion Chief Mike Gallo.
Gallo said flash flooding reached the roofs of some cars stuck under the viaduct on Deerpath beneath Highway 41. He said there was also deep water where people had to abandon vehicles just east of the underpass near Deerpath and Ahwahnee Lane.
“The water was coming from both directions at the viaduct and it was filling up fast,” Gallo said in a DailyNorthShore interview. “Some were only in a foot of water but in others it was as high as five feet.”
Calls started coming into the department at approximately 7:30 p.m. from motorists who were stalled in 10 different cars as the waters grew higher, according to Gallo and a news release from the department.
When firefighters arrived, Gallo said five were already abandoned and the passengers “self rescued.” He said they must have found rides from people they called or knew nearby.
In one rescue, Gallo said two people were pulled from a car beneath the underpass with the assistance of two firefighters using special clothing and ropes.
“We put one guy in a cold suit tied to a rope,” Gallo said. “Another guy mans the rope. The guy in the cold suit waded in, got one of the people, took them to where it was dry and went back for the other one.”
Gallo said none of the other rescues were as dramatic. In one case, one of the chiefs carried a person out of their car but most of the time fire department personnel suggested drivers and passengers get out of the car, leave it where it was and walk to safety.
“When a car stalls (in water) people think if they just wait it will start,” Gallo said. “It won’t.”
Though there were no injuries or hospitalizations, Gallo said, three people were taken to the fire station to dry out after getting soaked in the floodwater.
“They were definitely chilled,” Gallo said. “They changed clothes. We put them in fire department sweats so they could warm up.”
Lake Forest was not alone with flooding issues Saturday night. In Highland Park the city closed Trail Way and Summit Avenue, according to an email from the city. Those streets run perpendicular to Half Day Road. Though the roads were still closed at 11 p.m., by morning the waters receded and they were open, according to witnesses on the scene.