Calling it an "extraordinary storm," Powers said the overflowing viaducts are the top priority because the streets need to clear for emergency vehicles. He said most of the main viaducts were clear as of Thursday afternoon-- and some of the major roadways are open to traffic once again. Crews are still working on 27 clogged viaducts.
The second priority is responding to the 1,200 reports of flooded basements.
"We will respond to every report, but it may take some time," Powers said.
"Personal safety is more important than property," Gary Schenkel, OEMC, said. "Call 311 if water is not going down in your basement."
He also said crews are out trying to rid the standing water on city streets. There are 400 calls of standing water.
Powers said Albany Park residents are seeing a lot of flooding since the Chicago River is over its bank. Residents say the water came up lightning fast. Several homes were surrounded, and Kimberly Green's husband was rescued by boat.
"We can't get into our home," Green said. There, the water is more than two feet high.
The flooding also caused another major issue on the South Side, where a sinkhole swallowed three cars.It began with a water main break.
"The water in that water main continues to run," Powers said. "Washed out the street, washed out the soil, the pavement couldn't handle its own weight anymore."
Powers said his team is working with CDOT, police, fire, and park district officials.
The Chicago region was pounded by rain overnight, with as much as one inch of per hour falling across the area, delaying trains, flooding underpasses and turning the expressways into parking lots in time for the morning commute. Some suburban schools are closed due to flooding, and hundreds of streets are closed due to standing water.
Flight delays, cancellations
Airlines at O'Hare and Midway international airports are reporting delays and cancellations.
At O'Hare, airlines report an average of 90-minute delays for flights in and out of the airport. Approximately 600 flights have been canceled due to weather. Floodwaters have also closed some roads near the airport, so officials warn travelers to call their airlines and allow for extra time at the airport and in getting there.
At Midway, airlines report an average 30-minute delay for flights, and about 30 cancellations.
Earlier on Thursday, a lightning strike caused delays for Metra trains along the Union Pacific lines from Kenosha, Harvard and Elburn. Officials believe it would cleared up by the afternoon rush.
Metra's BNSF inbound trains were also delayed Thursday morning due to flooded platforms, and the pedestrian underpasses at the Belmont and Naperville stations were flooded beyond usability. On the Metra Electric, some stations were flooded to the point that Metra suggested riders use alternate stations.
Flash-flood warnings were in effect across the Chicago area Thursday. Standing water was reported on Lake Shore Drive. The two-day rain total at O'Hare was more than five inches with more on the way, said ABC7 meteorologist Phil Schwarz. Flooding will be a major concern for the next 36 hours, he said.
ComEd says 20,000 customers are experiencing outages system wide with 2,576 of them in Chicago.