Man killed in Pontiac flood; waters receding

Sheila Shelton

Pontiac's flooding claimed a life Wednesday evening with the death of a 36-year-old man.

According to Livingston County Coroner Michael P. Burke, "An incident that occurred at approximately 10:45 p.m. on Wednesday at a Pontiac residence claimed the life of Michael D. 'Mick' Huxtable, who was reportedly going down into his flooded basement and was carrying an extension cord when he slipped and fell forward into the water in the basement."

Friends who were with Huxtable pulled him from the water back onto the steps, according to Burke.

"A call to LIV COM summoned rescue personnel from Duffy Ambulance, Pontiac Fire and Rescue, members of the OSF Region 2 Medical Response Team and Pontiac Police. Resuscitation efforts were begun and the man was transported to the Emergency Room of OSF Saint James-John W. Albrecht Medical Center," said Burke.

Burke said Huxtable was pronounced dead in the Emergency Room at 11:38 p.m. on Wednesday.

Burke said he had ordered an autopsy to rule out a medical compromise and establish a cause of death.

If there has been any good news about the water situation in this community, it is that the Vermilion River dropped 5 inches by 8:15 a.m. to 143 inches.

"Late Wednesday evening, it was at 148 inches over the dam. It appears to have crested and was at 143 inches this morning over the dam. This does not mean that some new water will not come in here and the water could rise again," said Tim Tuley, superintendent of operations for Illinois American Water Co.

Tuley took the time this morning to explain some differences in calculating of the Vermilion's water and how it is different in 2008 from 1982.

"Much of the media is receiving information from NOA (National Oceanographic Agency). The measure for this agency is taken at the Vermillion Street Bridge. The water is also measured in feet at this site and we measure at inches over the dam at the water plant," said Tuley.

"Both NOA and the water company have changed measures devices many times over the past 25 years. It does not mean that either of us are totally accurate today. This discrepancy which indicates the water in the Vermilion is actually lower than 1982 may be correct. Once this flooding is a thing of the past we will have to take another look at both measuring devices and see if they need calibration," said Tuley.

He said that Illinois American Water Co., had been sandbagging around the clock at its water plant site.

"We have been trying to keep our facility safe for everyone that works here. Illinois American sent employees from East St. Louis, Champaign, Belleville, Peoria and Streator and of course all of our local employees worked around the clock," he said.

"Today we are pleased to be able to pump water out of the lower-lying area of our plant. This is geared at keeping critical equipment safe," Tuley said.

Some streets were able to be opened this morning, according to Pontiac Police.

Indiana Avenue, Mill Street, Ladd Street and Route 66 were all opened. Remaining closed were Ill. Route 116 (Howard Street) at the eastern edge of Pontiac, Vermillion Street north of Cleary Street and east of the railroad and many streets around Chautauqua and Play parks.

Mayor Scott McCoy, in an interview on the Weather Channel, said that the river had receded 7 inches as of late this morning.

"We're starting to see some infrastructure back," McCoy said in the


He also said that Commonwealth Edison provided the city with three generators in case of a loss of power. There was no loss of power, according to the mayor.

Pontiac has been declared a Disaster Area, according to information provided by McCoy on Tuesday night. He said he signed the declaration, which was then to go to the Livingston County Board Chairman Bill Flott on Wednesday and on to the state.

Margaret Legner, who was working at the Rec-Center this morning, said 31 people stayed overnight at the center on Wednesday night.

"People are in and out today," she said. "The community has been great in helping make certain people have everything they might need here."

Legner said Red Cross volunteers helped, while McDonald's and DeLong's were providing food, pizza and sloppy joes had been brought in as well as a movie and popcorn for Wednesday after supper.

Pontiac Daily News