Many Communities Plagued With Flooding After Weekend Storms

UPDATED 07/25/11 11:12 a.m.

PARK RIDGE, Ill. (CBS) — Over the weekend, some Chicago area residents were merely kept awake by a severe round of storms.

But many others suffered severe and devastating flooding, and they are still cleaning up as a new work week begins.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, at Salt Creek in Riverside, where it flows into the Des Plaines River, is already 1.5 feet over flood stage. A flood warning has been issued for the area.

If it rained even an inch more, residents would sustain moderate flooding, impacting homes and residents.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports

A flood warning is also in effect for the east branch of the DuPage River in Bolingbrook, where the water is 1.1 feet over flood stage.

Families in Park Ridge were particularly hard hit, and are trying desperately to dry their property out.

It was a depressing sight outside one house New Pergo floors, bundles of carpet, and a nice brown leather couch were all left out behind the curb for the garbage man to pick up.

At Park Ridge resident Mark McMillan’s house, water inundated a room that held some of his most prized collections.

“This is my collectibles room. We call it the G.I. Joe room because I started collecting G.I. Joes many, many years ago,” he said. The flooding in the room amounted to “6 to 8 inches; it went just over the top of that step.”

McMillan said the sump pump in his basement couldn’t handle the surge of water from the storm Saturday morning.

“The fan was lapping up the water, and that’s when I came down and there was that water just ponding there, so I was up for the entire day. I was up for at least 48 hours,” he said.
His daughter, Dana McMillan, was shocked by the damage in the house.

“We looked out the window; the whole street was flooded over there, and when I came home, I was devastated, because I like the floor in here,” she said.

But one by one, her father had to rip out the floors and carpet. Meanwhile, he kept the fans and dehumidifiers running all weekend.

“It’s a little heartbreaking, but it is what it is,” Mark McMillan said.

But what really broke McMillan’s heart was his collection of more than 150 unique books and magazine dripping with water.

“There were mostly books on lower edge – water came up and got the bottom, like, inch or two in the books and just basically ruined them,” he said.

Handling each page with a lot of care, McMillan ironed the books he didn’t want to see go into a pile of garbage.

McMillan and his children are thankful at least his action figures and the many other collection items were spared.

“G.I. Joe from 1964 – luckily these were up nice and high,” he said.

This was the second time McMillan’s house has flooded in four years, and he estimates he lost about $4,000 this time.

Officials with the City of Park Ridge said they don’t have an exact number of homes that were flooded this past weekend, but they received several calls.

Meanwhile in Des Plaines, residents have already dealt with serious flooding, and the storms have also caused some injuries.

A large branch from a tree damaged in the storms split from its base and fell to the ground, injuring 3-year-old twin girls Sunday afternoon. The girls’ mother was also injured, but none of their injuries is considered life-threatening.

In Des Plaines, homes were also threatened. There were some street closures and flood damage, as residents rushed to place sandbags around their homes.

“It got to the third step of the house here, and 8 feet in the basement, and 4 feet in the garage,” said resident Tom Hooper.

But Hooper said not even sandbags would have helped.

“We kept the door closed to try to stop the water from pouring in. It broke the whole door jamb and everything, see, it tore it apart, from the force of the water,” he said.

Hooper took CBS 2 around his house, where it was hard to distinguish the river from his backyard.

“Right now, we’ve lost two furnaces, a 75-gallon hot water tank,” he said.

This is the 15th time Hooper’s home has flooded in the past decade.

“This one came real fast,” he said. “This is the fastest I’ve ever seen.”

The river crested at about 7.5 feet Saturday, but by Sunday evening, it was just above 5 feet.

“I very thankful, because now, something could be done,” he said.

Sandbags are up at three locations in Des Plaines – Big Ben Drive and Hawthorne Lane, Christ Church at Cora and Henry Avenues, and River Road at Howard Street.

Back in Riverside, the National Weather Service predicts now that most homes will avoid significant flooding. But park areas and forest preserves were already flooded Monday morning.

The storms over the weekend – particularly the round that swept through between about 1 and 3 a.m. Saturday – caused serious problems all around the area.

Around 160,000 ComEd customers lost power because of the storm, although unlike another violent storm two weeks ago, the vast majority had their power restored within the day.

Flooding was also widespread. The Fire Department had to rescue two semi-truck drivers who had to stand on top of their trucks as they became stranded in more than 10 feet of water on Interstate 57, the Sun-Times Media Wire reported. Flooding also forced many CTA buses to reroute from Lake Shore Drive.

At least one fire in the city, and two in Naperville, were believed to be caused by lightning from the storm.

Around 2 a.m. Saturday, a fire broke out in the two-story home at 1617 W. Byron St. in the West Lakeview neighborhood, and in the wee hours Sunday, fires broke out at 5423 Switch Grass Lane and 2520 Freeland Ct. in Naperville, each causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, the Sun-Times Media Wire reported.

CBS 2 Meteorologist Megan Glaros says conditions are expected to be cooler, drier and less humid on Monday and Tuesday, with highs in the mid- to upper 80s. But highs return to the low 90s on Wednesday and Thursday, and there is a chance of thunderstorms every day from Wednesday through Friday.

Already, this is the second wettest July in history, with 9.04 inches through Sunday. The only year with more rainfall in July was 1889 – when the World’s Columbian Exposition was four years in the future – and when 9.56 inches of rain fell.

  • ucity88

    “This is the 15th time Hooper’s home has flooded in the past decade.”

    WOW! How does he get any homeowner’s insurance policies underwritten now after it flooded FIFTEEN times??

    • Spoon

      Why the hell would you still live there?!

  • JeanSC

    The basement of the multi-family building I live in gets flooded every time the rainfall reaches a certain intensity for a certain length of time. Most floods are just a few inches of water with a lot of sewer crud, but once the water was 1′ deep for hours. Some videotapes I’d thought were safe were ruined. I wasn’t happy to lose them, but learned from my error and moved the rest upstairs. All the stuff stored on the floor in my shed is in plastic bags and deep plastic boxes. The furniture which should never have been there in the first place is upstairs, safe. I can’t feel sorry for the people in those known floodplains who’ve had their basements flooded repeatedly. They should learn and change their behavior. What they must store there, should be in “dry bags” or boxes with waterproof O-rings. Maybe they can rig flotation devices to some. The furniture should be restricted to the inexpensive molded plastic types. I’d say the best way for communities to protect their floodplain residents from future floods is to advise them about what not to put in oft-flooded basements, and ban basements outright in new construction. The multiple-repeat basement-flood victims don’t deserve the media attention they’re getting.

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