Report: 911 Calls Went Unanswered During Storms In Northwest Suburbs

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (CBS) — A northwest suburban emergency dispatch center was flooded with calls during a record rainfall last month, and a torrent of them went unanswered.

WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports as nearly 7 inches of rain fell in a period of three hours July 23, a stream of 911 calls 10 times the normal volume came into the Northwest Suburban Dispatch System.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports

Eleven suburbs use the dispatch system, and all of them were hit hard by the storm, the Daily Herald reported.

The Daily Herald reports between 2 and 4 a.m., 1,000 calls were abandoned.

The executive director for the system told the Daily Herald that extra dispatchers were brought in, but could not keep up.

Many of the calls were about power outages and flooded basements, which are for private companies and not police and fire departments, the Daily Herald reported.

Arlington Heights Village President Arlene Mulder says she expects the dispatch system to review the situation and come up with improvements, the Daily Herald reported.

The storms on July 23 brought devastating flooding to many Chicago area suburbs, particularly along the Des Plaines River. In just that one weekend, July 2011 went from the third driest July on record to the second wettest, and soon afterward set a new record for the wettest July ever.

  • James

    What kind of complete and total moron would call 911 for a power outage or flooded basement? People can be so damn stupid.

  • Mark Braun

    In Norridge, I was caught on my own street at 3 am going into the intersection on my own street and buried my car in water. There were no barriers up, there were no warnings. don’t dare tell me that these municipalities could not have used the warning sirens or call alerts: A mass call to residents would have tipped a lot of us to get the cars up the curbs: One call. Instead, I climbed out, pushed it to higher ground 2 blocks away.

    got that? One call. A lot of basements might have had a better chance, and cars? Well…

    We need leadership when things like this hit the fan, not when they come around for votes.

  • katrina

    I used to work 911. Every time the power went out, people called 911 and those lines would just light up all at once. The worst part was that I worked a shift alone, no partner, no back up…just me. Those times were very stressful because answering every call was a job requirement obviously but it was easy to get overwhelmed by the volume of calls. Each person has a different interpretation of what is truly a police/fire/EMS emergency. Most calls were unnecessary.


    This is just another shining example that shows we are becoming a “nanny ” state and country. Too many people think it’s the Governments job to fix all their problems,even the ones created by mother nature. Gimme,gimme,gimme.

  • jack

    The people who call 911 to report that their basement is flooded are expecting what exactly from the police – that they come out to you house to pick your @ss out of the water.

    I would really like to hear from one of the morons reporting that their basement was flooded. You are most likely the same idiots who call 911 to say that McD didn’t give you enough fries with your order.

    America – land of the dumb, stupid, lame and lazy

  • anonymous

    Kudos to the dispatchers that managed to get to work that night either for their own 1100pm shift, or came in the middle of the night to help out. They had to wade through water and leave their cars because there was flooding nearby, yet they did what they could to get there and answer the phones.
    No one says anything about the many people trapped in their cars that these dispatchers helped, or the apartment building fire at the time, or any of the other great things the dispatchers did that night.

  • anAWAREperson

    Thank you 911 dispatchers you are dedicated, responsible individuals who go the extra mile everyday. The public is very unaware of all that you do and how many people you helped that night. Maybe we should hear from the people who were helped, ooh thats right that doesn’t really make for a good news story.

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