Residents survey damage from weekend storms

July 25, 2010 (CHICAGO) Heavy rain Friday and Saturday caused massive flooding, and it will take time and money for Chicagoland residents to recover. Some areas saw more than seven inches of rain. Many western suburbs were the hardest hit.

Left beleaguered by flood waters, hundreds of Cicero residents-- sometimes arriving dozens at a time -- came to the town's village hall hoping for some help.

"I think that crying is no good anymore. This is what solves our problems, coming here solves our problem, whatever help we get here," said Cicero resident Eliza Saldival.

"I'm a teacher. I lost my job. Some of my things were stored in the basement and got ruined," said Constance Kennedy, also a Cicero resident.

The Cicero village hall was expected to remain open until 8 p.m. Sunday.

With damages 'guesstimated' at several million dollars, town officials are seeking flood relief funds and began documenting losses by residents as they try to have Cicero declared a disaster area.

"It's a terrible time today. It's a terrible economy. So, everybody looks for the government to help them, and in a serious situation like this, I think government needs to do something," said Ray Hanania, town of Cicero spokesperson.

Meanwhile, the sound of pumps could still be heard in west suburban Broadview, where a lot of basements were still under water and homeowners remained frustrated, nearly two full days after the downpour.

Dolores Jimenez said she had never seen flooding as bad. At one point, her husband was up to his neck in water, not only coming from the outside, but also coming up through the plumbing on the inside of her house.

"We have a TV, a bed, refrigerator, freezer, washer dryer, everything, all my clothes, all gone," Jimenez said. "I've been here for 20 years, and we lost everything all of a sudden."

Jimenez says she used to have flood insurance but let it lapse when told by her insurance company she didn't need it.

"I've never had a disaster like this in my life, never, never, and it is overwhelming to see the water," said Broadview resident Annie Mowen.

"You're worried about the next time it rains. My daughters were crying. That stuff is very difficult on the family," said Broadview resident Juan Moreno.

In neighboring, Westchester, services at a local church were canceled as a result of the severe storms.

"Made it to the church. Two and a half feet of water in the basement. What can you do?" said Rev. David Prentice Jr. of Faith Lutheran Westchester Church.

Meanwhile, thousands of Chicago residents were also cleaning up after the storms.

Crews were still working to pump water out of a south Loop garage at 800 S. Wells. Twelve feet of water flooded the underground garage at the River City Condominiums Saturday, where approximately 100 cars were parked.

Diesel fumes and gasoline from the cars mixed with chlorine from a pool in the building and caused a hazardous materials response.

Approximately 1,500 residents had to be evacuated from the 17-story building.

"We had the residents come back in and get their pets, which animal control was great in helping us with. We had them get their medicine and baggage to leave because their was no water, " said Chicago Fire Department Csmr. Robert Hoff.

The storms also knocked down hundreds of trees, including one that was uprooted on the city's Northwest Side in the 2400-block of W. Rice.

The city's Streets and Sanitation Department said Sunday it had responded to nearly 300 tree emergencies since Saturday.

The Chicagoland area has seen some crazy weather lately. From temperatures in the 90s that spawned heat advisories to the flooding caused by record rainfall, which made this July one of the wettest to date. Some forecasters say the weather shifts are only a sign that the atmosphere is adjusting itself.

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