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Heavy rain snarls traffic, cancels flights

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Updated: July 30, 2013 7:27AM

The Chicago area was pummeled early Wednesday with 3 to 5 inches of rain, closing the Edens Expressway for nearly four hours, canceling airline flights, flooding homes and suspending some rail service.

Metra suspended service on its Union Pacific Northwest Line Wednesday between McHenry and Crystal Lake. Officials said they hope train service will return to normal Thursday morning.

Cars stalled out in standing water near Pratt in northwest suburban Niles after attempting to pass through the water, forcing the Edens expressway to shut down,according to the Illinois State Police. By about 10 a.m., the Edens was reopened to both northbound and southbound traffic, police said.

The deluge flooded out the viaduct at Montrose and Lake Shore Drive, making it impassable. On Lake Shore itself about 6:50 a.m., the normally wide-open lanes were clogged with stop-and-go traffic near Fullerton.

While rain fell across the entire area, lands to the north of O’Hare Airport were saturated. Flights in and out of O’Hare were delayed up to an hour and more than 230 flights were canceled, officials said. At Midway Airport, some flights were delayed more than an hour and about 30 flights were canceled.

Flooding kept area emergency workers busy. For example, the Glenview fire department responded in the morning to roughly 55 calls for flooding and vehicle rescues while the police responded to 33 calls for traffic hazards. Barrington area emergency personnel called for backup for a water rescue at North Kelsey and Old Barrington roads just before noon in Lake Barrington. Another water rescue was reported on Russell Street near Summit in Barrington. A home was surrounded by water, trapping those inside, Lawler said.

“It wouldn’t stop thundering and pouring,” said Teresa Boldanos, whose family lives at the intersection of St. Marys Parkway and Hiawatha Drive in Buffalo Grove, of her 5 a.m. wakeup. “I was scared.”

Because of the incline her house sits atop, Buffalo Creek never got into her basement, but it invaded plenty of her neighbors’ homes.

“I got woken up at six, and found a lovely lake,” said Meghan Mellis, also near the oft-flooded intersection, who had three feet of water in her basement as she spoke.

Buffalo Grove Fire Department Chief Terry Vavra said they recorded .75 inches of water before midnight Tuesday, and another 3 inches by 9 a.m. Wednesday. He said his responders checked on 20 homes in Mellis and Boldanos’s washed-out neighborhood and helped relocate nine residents who wanted to leave.

His crews also performed water rescues, of a sort. Several residents said various physical ailments kept them from getting through the water alone, so with boats supplied by various fire districts, Buffalo Grove firefighters moved them out of their houses.

Staff reporters Jennifer Johnson, Bridget O’Shea, Todd Shields and Ronnie Wachter contributed to this report.

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