NW suburbs hit hardest by flooding

July 23, 2011 8:30:07 PM PDT
Basements flooded and streets overflowed in Chicago's suburbs after severe storms Saturday.

Areas northwest of the city seem to have been hit the hardest. On Hatlan Avenue in Mount Prospect, for instance, dozens of homes were flooded and the residents are stunned.

"We're physically and emotionally drained. I haven't even begun to think how I'm going to rebuild this house, move this stuff out and prevent further damage," said flood victim Rich Karbowiak. Karbowiak's basement still has 6 feet of water, which is down from 10 feet Saturday morning.

"You felt helpless. You couldn't get the water with the buckets. It was coming in faster than you could get it out," Karbowiak said.

Karbowiak and his neighbors are angry because they say the flooding was due, in large part, to infrastructure problems.

The rush of water was so powerful that it knocked over the Zalewskis' basement refrigerator. They say a nearby flood lock should have been opened overnight but was not.

"We have a problem here, and if we know there's a problem, and we're calling you at two in the morning, and there's a solution, why isn't it getting solved?" said flood victim Fran Zalewski.

Bonnie Pawelko's Elk Grove Village basement is in shambles Saturday afternoon, after 10 feet of water from the nearby Salt Creek flooded into her home. The water destroyed nearly all of her granddaughter's family's possessions.

"It just filled everywhere. It kept coming and coming and coming. We have two pumps downstairs, it just couldn't handle it," Pawelko said. "I don't know what to do. I told them, 'I'm sorry I told you to come live here, I'm sorry. I'm sorry.'"

On Saturday morning, Chopper 7HD captured the breadth of the damage in the northern suburbs -- entire neighborhoods in Winnetka, Glencoe and Northfield were inundated with water.

In Palatine, where a sinkhole is now causing headaches, the deluge left two large condo complexes and dozens of vehicles flooded. Residents scrambled to get what they could of their possessions off the floor, but for many, furniture, carpets and electronics are ruined.

"I woke up in the morning and my son's pants were floating by me. I thought i was dreaming. I jumped up and stepped into that much water," said Palatine resident Judith Linarez. "Everything is soaking wet. I had a laptop on the floor. Everything is ruined."

"We've been helping each other push the cars out onto the street, helping the people that are on the first level get their kids out, most of the apartments got water," said Palatine resident Mary Wallace.

The hardest hit community, however, is possibly Des Plaines. Being near the river, residents here are used to getting battered by the rains, but on Saturday, even areas that traditionally don't get flooded, did, including main roads like Touhy Avenue. At the Touhy Mobile Home Park, large stretches were under water despite a relatively new sewer system.

"This is very high for us. I've only ever seen the water come up to my house. This is a little extreme. All you can do is help the neighbors and make sure everyone gets their vehicles out and try and clean up when it goes away. That is what we do," said Des Plaines resident Nicole Linstad.

The City of Des Plaines has declared a state of emergency.

"The city's here to help. We have all our crew. We have a policy of all hands on deck. We have sandbags in various locations," said Des Plaines Mayor Marty Moylan.

"I think that unfortunately if you have a basement, at some point you probably have water in it," said Des Plaines resident Dan Whisler.


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