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Army Corps Submits Preliminary Plan To Relieve Des Plaines River Flooding

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The Des Plaines River floods well past its banks near Maywood and Oak Park, at Madison Street. (Photo courtesy Scott Davidson)

The Des Plaines River floods well past its banks near Maywood and Oak Park, at Madison Street. (Photo courtesy Scott Davidson)

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DES PLAINES, Ill. (CBS) – The federal government has come up with a draft plan to ease some of the flooding that happens along the Des Plaines River, and will accept public comment on the plan over the next month.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plan would involve building levees, restoring some lands to their natural states as marshes or prairies, as well as flood-proofing some homes.

According to project manager Jeff Zucker, the plan would take 20 years to complete, and would cost at least $400 million.

He said there’s no guarantee the plan would “eliminate the drastic flooding (like we had in the spring) but we would definitely reduce its effects.”

Zucker said the Corps considered the possibility of buying homes in flooded areas, and making that part of the ecosystem restoration as well.

“Unfortunately, that wasn’t anything we were able to accomplish given the economics of the situation,” he said.

According to the Army Corps plan, the need to do something to alleviate flooding conditions was highlighted by major flooding this past spring.

“Major flood stage was reached along the entire Des Plaines study area,” according to the report.

The report pointed out that FEMA declared the area a disaster area and, as of July, had approved more than 60,000 applications for aid, totaling nearly $150 million in individual disaster relief.

Zucker said the area of the Des Plaines River studied was from Kenosha, Wisc. to west suburban Riverside, where village manager Peter Scalera said, “We were happy to learn our plea for help was heard”.

Scalera said the Army Corps plan calls for construction of a levee along a part of the river where there are about 15 homes that “chronically” are flooded by the Des Plaines River.

Even though the plan is a long-term vision for the area, Scalera said it “provides hope to our residents” and the “satisfaction that something is on the radar.”

Scalera said, hopefully, Congress would act when it gets the plan, which Zucker said probably won’t be until next July, after it undergoes various reviews by the Corps of Engineers.

For the next month, though, the Corps is accepting public comment on the plan.

To see a copy of the Army Corps of Engineers report, click here.

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