CHICAGO (CBS) — A Willow Springs family’s home has flooded dozens of times in the past few years, and they blame the Illinois Tollway and a railroad with nearby property.
Now, however, Joe Russo is finally getting help after years of fighting the floods.
“I had tears in my eyes. I was, like, finally seeing the light, you know,” he said. “A nightmare. It was a nightmare — we went from a dream house to a nightmare.”
He says mold from water damage made his family sick, and repeated flooding ruined his motorcycles and antique cars. Additionally, nearly everything in his basement was destroyed, as well.
“It was mentally, physically and health wise, just destroying my life,” Russo said.
But now, he has finally convinced the Tollway to buy his house, after CBS 2 Investigators exposed his problem this summer.
Clogged drains and broken pipes from the Tollway — along with additional blocked drains belonging to the railroad near his house — sent water pouring his way.
Russo says he’s endured 60 floods to date; the most recent was about four weeks ago.
Russo says after CBS 2’s report, Illinois Tollway quickly cleaned the drainage system. The flooding continued, however, so they decided to buy his property. In a letter, the Tollway states that they will be appraising it before the official offer, which is what Russo hoped for all along.
“I fought with them tooth and nail; they wouldn’t return my phone calls, they wouldn’t come out here,” he said.
He says Tollway staff has told him more homes may also be purchased on his street in order to build a retention pond, which is part of a project to expand the I-294 mile-long bridge above them.
According to Russo, he and his neighbors have the option to buyout or relocate.
He says flooding cost him about $200,000 in property damage and cleanup costs.
In a statement, Illinois Tollway officials say they can not comment on land purchase deals until they are complete. They did say they are working with the Village of Willow Springs, the Canadian National Railroad and area residents to improve the flooding issues.