DES PLAINES, Ill. (CBS) — The American Red Cross has opened seven shelters to provide relief for nearly 200 people who were forced from their homes this week by flooding in Cook, DuPage, Lake, and DeKalb counties.

WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports a number of residents of a Hillside apartment complex have been put up in a Des Plaines community center, including retiree Beverlyn Houston.

Houston lost everything when water began filling her apartment at the Oak Ridge Manor Apartments.

“Cars, furniture, TV, house, and even my pets; I wasn’t able to get my parakeets out,” she said. “It was up to my thighs, you know? And I could see the water rising. … it came so fast. Like, within five minutes, that water was up there.”

She ended up at the Des Plaines community center after being shuttled to a couple other spots before that.

“After going to a couple of places, and they were flooded, then they sent us here,” Houston said.

John Whiteside said he got up Thursday morning and found his apartment floor was wet, so he and his wife bailed out quickly.

Whiteside, who’s about 6-foot-2, said the water was up to his chest when he stepped outside.

“Man, you talk about a frightening experience, wow!” he said.

Whiteside said he had to hold on to a rope to be guided to safety by firefighters.

The Red Cross has been providing shelter, food and emotional support to about 200 people displaced by the floods. The seven shelters will remain open as needed through the weekend.

The list of open shelters can be found at, or by downloading the free Red Cross Tornado app, which also allows users to monitor weather reports. It’s available at the Apple iTunes Store, and the Google Play Store for Android phones.

Watch & Listen LIVE