Record rain leads to major flooding

Des Plaines residents asked to evacuate
September 13, 2008 10:32:42 PM PDT
Record rainfall has caused majored flooding in the Chicago area and made a mess of basements and roads.Parts of the Chicago area got over 6.5 inches Saturday, breaking the old single-day rainfall record, according to ABC7 meteorologist Phil Schwarz.

One-thousand people in Des Plaines are being encouraged to evacuate. The mayor there is concerned about the Des Plaines River cresting at a record level.

Many residents of Des Plaines are accustomed to dealing with high water, and for that reason rarely leave, but not this high, and now many are heeding the mayor's advice to pack up and get out.

"Last year they made such a big deal and it was nothing and this year it's absolutely devastating," said Des Plaines resident Donna Tworek.

They tried everything. Pumps. Sand bags. Even garden hoses. But it's not be enough.

"My son, daughter and my husband, we're just going to go to the hotel," said Tworek. Tworek said it's the first time she's had to evacuate in 12 years. "It was heart wrenching, 'cause it's our home."

"This year it came so fast and hard, it was totally unexpected, I've never seen it climb so quickly," said Sam Marchetti, Des Plaines resident.

Even long-time residents who are accustomed to the Des Plaines River rising say this year is different. Forecasts call for a record crest, more than 4 feet above flood stage.

One-thousand homeowners are being encouraged to evacuate.

"We can't force them, but we're going to tell them that if we get the same amount of rain tomorrow as we got today ? that's what they're saying and this water falls on top of what's already there, we may not be able to get to them," said Tony Arredia, Des Plaines mayor.

There's bad news on Good Street in Park Ridge where retaining walls keep the river at bay, but the rain water is another story. Fifty homes have water around or in them.

"The city should've been here last night pumping water out of the sewer on...dumping it over onto Dempster, and they were not," said Scott DeGraf, Park Ridge resident.

Rescuers waded in after nearly a dozen motorists who tried to drive through high water under the Edens on Golf Road. They also had bruised egos. "I felt really stupid. I thought I could make it in my big mean truck and I got myself stuck," said Matt Hinklin, stranded driver.

There are shelters in Midlothian, Melrose Park and two in Des Plaines for those escaping flooding who need a place to stay.

Saturday's rainfall has residents fighting a losing battle against floodwaters coming from the North Branch of the Chicago River. Residents are sandbagging in an effort to keep the water out of their homes near the intersection of Argyle and Monticello. Rain runoff caused the river to rise above its banks and flood parts of the Albany Park neighborhood, including a cemetery and several basements.

"It's tough in there right now, all my furniture and that stuff is flooded," said Song Yem, home flooded.

"As long as this rain keeps coming, it's just gonna keep going up and up and up," said Justin Johnson, sandbagging volunteer.

"We're working now to try and control that flow of water coming up into the city streets and affecting the citizens," said Raymond Orozco, Chicago Emergency Management and Communication.

The city's Office of Emergency Management and Communication says it will have teams sandbagging throughout the night.

Public transportation in the city also felt the impact of the weekend's rains. Flooding near O'Hare caused the Chicago Transit Authority to suspend Blue Line rail service into the airport. The Blue Line was operating as far as the Rosemont station, where shuttle buses were used to transport passengers to and from O'Hare. That shuttle service continued into Saturday night.

The CTA also reported the Yellow Line service halted because of flooding along Niles Road, where shuttle buses were used to transport passengers. The Green Line was also a flooding casualty, with service from the South Side into the Loop ending at 35th Street.

(The Associated Press and the Sun-Times News Group contributed to this report).


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