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CHICAGO (CBS) – More than a day after many city streets were flooded from heavy rain, Mayor Rahm Emanuel made his first tour of the Albany Park neighborhood, the area hardest hit in Chicago.
The mayor did not make any public appearances on Thursday, when Gov. Pat Quinn toured several suburbs and declared a state of emergency due to massive flooding that swelled many local rivers to record levels, and overwhelmed the Chicago area’s “Deep Tunnel” system to store rain water.
Friday morning, the mayor was in Washington, D.C., for an appearance alongside former President Bill Clinton, but returned to Chicago Friday afternoon, and visited the Albany Park neighborhood, where flood waters had receded after leaving many streets and basements underwater on Thursday.
WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports sandbags still lined a stretch of Ridgeway Avenue as the mayor visited local residents. Streets were finally clear of flood waters, and residents were cleaning up from the damage.
The mayor said Peoples Gas crews were out in Albany Park to restore heat, after gas service had to be shut off due to the flooding.
He said flooding will always be a problem along the Chicago River when there’s very heavy rainfall, but he said drainage has improved over the years, and more can be done to divert water away from homes.
“Where the curve is on the river, we can re-channel that, so you actually prevent all the type of flooding here,” Emanuel said. “Obviously, a lot more work has to be done.”
The mayor said work needs to be done to get federal, state, and local funding to improve drainage in the area in the event of flooding.
“We’re just talking about assembling those dollars to do what we need to do here, so people’s lives are not constantly – both at their home, in their basement, and you have kids where their heat is being turned off – so you don’t have this type of situation constantly where water’s … going all the way through the street,” he said.
City officials said some cleanup work remains, and utilities have to be restored in some areas, but flood waters have been pumped out of residential streets in Albany Park.