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Illinois school officials worry Illinois flooding might affect classes

Gov. Bruce Rauner pauses Friday near hundreds of sandbags and the flooded McClure Avenue with Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor and IEMA Director James Joseph (right) in Gurnee. Illinois officials said Friday that about 6,800 buildings have been affected by "unprecedented" flooding north of Chicago, and the damage is expected to worsen this weekend as water flows down rivers into the state from Wisconsin.
Gov. Bruce Rauner pauses Friday near hundreds of sandbags and the flooded McClure Avenue with Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor and IEMA Director James Joseph (right) in Gurnee. Illinois officials said Friday that about 6,800 buildings have been affected by "unprecedented" flooding north of Chicago, and the damage is expected to worsen this weekend as water flows down rivers into the state from Wisconsin.

ROUND LAKE – Officials in one Illinois school district are concerned that flooding from recent rainfall will affect the start of classes next month.

Bookshelves in W.J. Murphy Elementary School’s library are covered by water, The Chicago Tribune reported.

“The library is really our epicenter of our whole building, and obviously, it’s a total loss,” district operations executive director Shelia Duhon told the newspaper.

The gym, a music room and computer room also are flooded at the school in Lake County’s Round Lake, northwest of Chicago and south of Wisconsin’s state line.

Duhon said computers were under water and the school’s computer server room in the basement was flooded. Water also stood in four fourth-grade classrooms.

Heavy rainfall that hit the Midwest on Wednesday knocked out power to thousands and closed roadways. Power outages caused by flooding forced the evacuation of Lake Forest Hospital in suburban Chicago. Power was restored that night, but the hospital was closed Friday as crews restored damaged infrastructure.

State officials have said that some 6,800 buildings have been affected by the “unprecedented” flooding. The damage was expected to worsen this weekend as water flows down rivers into the state from Wisconsin.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday issued a state disaster proclamation for Lake, McHenry and Kane counties.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, both Democrats, were to join Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor on Saturday afternoon during a tour of flood-stricken neighborhoods. They also were expected to visit the Lake County Emergency Management Agency in Libertyville.

At W.J. Murphy Elementary, the water had receded a bit by Friday, but can’t be pumped outside the building until the water around the school is gone.

About 500 students attend the school and classes are to start in late August.

“We’ve contacted other districts, and we may have enough space at our other elementary schools to absorb the students,” Duhon said.

But once the water goes away, a structural engineering may have to look at Murphy, she added.

“The school has had some water issues in the past,” Duhon said. “It’s never been like this.”

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