At least 200 Gibson City residents evacuated after flooding | Weather



A neighborhood at Peregrine and Falcon streets is flooded in Gibson City Thursday afternoon. 

GIBSON CITY — Severe flooding resulting from thunderstorms on Thursday forced hundreds from their homes in Gibson City, officials said.

At least 200 people were evacuated by crews and brought to the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Middle School, said Superintendent Jeremy Darnell.

“We were pulling people out with boats before we got here,” he said, adding that police officers, firefighters and neighbors assisted rescue efforts.

“The community showed up and the people who had the ability to help came to help,” Darnell said.


Water covers the pavement near 8th Street and Route 47 in Gibson City Thursday afternoon. 

The NWS office said Thursday morning that 3 to 4 inches of rain were expected throughout the day in southern Ford County. Later, Meteorologist Andrew Pritchard said an estimated 5 to 7 inches of rain fell from stationary thunderstorms near Gibson City.

A representative with the Ford County Sheriff’s Office said people were evacuated from homes on North State Street, as well as major intersections along Illinois Route 54 and Route 9. 

Illinois State Police District 21 stated in a Facebook post at 2 p.m. Thursday that all state routes entering and leaving Gibson City were closed because of flooded roadways, and they remained closed as of about 7:30 p.m. Many of the other county roads surrounding Gibson City were flooded over and impassable. 

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A truck makes its way through floodwaters near Illinois Route 9 and County Road 300 East outside Gibson City on Thursday.

Gibson City Police Chief Adam Rosendahl said Thursday evening they were not aware of any injuries from the storms and flooding.

Many of the evacuees were brought to the school from apartment buildings on North State Street, Darnell said, adding that the flooding extended from 13th Street to 15th Street.

“The water was at the toilet seat when we left, and everything was floating when we left,” said Gibson City resident Cheryl Thompson, 58.


This photo provided by Meteorologist Andrew Pritchard shows flooding Thursday on South Sangamon Avenue near First Street in Gibson City.

She and Rick Thompson, 62, said they were both born and raised in Gibson City, and they’ve never before seen a flood as bad as the one Thursday. Their house by Ninth and Pine streets was totaled by the water damage, Cheryl Thompson said, and they were brought to the middle school by boat.

“They brought it right up to the front door, and we got in with our cat,” Thompson said.

“We knew we couldn’t stay there with the water rising, and it’s filthy water,” she said.


A neighborhood is flooded in Gibson City Thursday afternoon. 

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“Well, thank the Lord our family is all safe,” Thompson later said, adding this wasn’t the first time she was displaced from her home. She said her family had a house fire five days before Christmas.

“But you have to just learn to know that in the end, you’ll be OK,” she said.

She also recalled in 1978, there was a flood almost as bad.


Floodwaters surround a building near Illinois Route 9 and County Road 300 East outside Gibson City on Thursday.

“The little church across the street there at Ninth and Pine, it was just the one little square structure, and the water started pouring in and we had to help the elderly out of the church, and the basement just filled up.”

Thompson said sewer work was done after that flood, “but this is worse than that.”

Stacey Reed said she left her medicine in her ground-floor apartment when she was taken out by boat. She said the flooding happened “within minutes.”


Floodwaters surround a camper in Gibson City Thursday afternoon. 

“It was scary because I was in the apartment when the water started rising,” Reed said. “Stuff started floating away, and stuff started falling over.

“I couldn’t drive away anyway, because I was having transmission problems,” she said. “I was in the process of getting it fixed.”


A neighborhood is flooded in Gibson City Thursday afternoon. 

Her ex-husband and his father-in-law live in the same complex, she said, adding “they forgot their medication, too.”

Reed said it was scary because her family lives out of state.

“People are kind of waiting here. They’re trying to find out what’s going to happen next,” she said. “A lot of people here are hungry. They’re tired.”

Area businesses and residents quickly stepped up to help those in need. 


A neighborhood is flooded in Gibson City Thursday afternoon. 

Gibson Area Hospital announced on Facebook that it would be providing medications for people who had to evacuate and didn’t have time to gather their medicine. “If you have been evacuated and displaced from today’s flood without your medications, call Gibson Family Pharmacy/Medicine Shoppe at 217-784-8545 and we will assist your emergent medication needs,” the post read.

Gibson City firefighters brought food to the middle school, and Darnell said the Red Cross was also on its way with food and medicine. Evacuees would sleep at the school or at Gibson City Bible Church Thursday night.

Reed added she was given dry clothes.

“At least I have a dry shirt,” she said.

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