Streets, basements flood during storm

July 29, 2011 (CHICAGO)

When your backyard is the Des Plaines River you keep the sandbags out just in case. Misa Ono has lived on Big Bend Road since 1959. She knows it's risky to live on a street that's surrounded by the Des Plaines.

"We had water up to the sidewalks here," Ono said.

A mile away, the stench from mold-infected drywall permeates the hallways of garden apartments that were flooded earlier this week. Mary Bathalon saved her family pictures, but her asthma is kicking in and she remains stunned by the power of water.

"It just all happened so fast, it just came in just like this. Things just came floating through," Bathalon said.

The travails of those living in Des Plaines mirror those of the Fountain family on the West Side, and so many others living in the city. Macie Fountain said she is tired of the water that keeps pouring into her basement.

"It's true, a lot of water, and the odor is bad from the sewer," she said. "A lot of clothes [are ruined]. My water heater is out and the furnace [too]," she said.

Flooding from the storms also caused difficulty for Friday morning commuters. Flash floods closed some viaducts along Lake Shore Drive overnight, including the Michigan and North Avenue entrance ramps. After officials drained the viaducts, the ramps were reopened. High-standing water also caused some delays at the southbound LSD Belmont entrance early Friday.

Also during the deluge, the steps leading to Oak Street Beach from Michigan Avenue became a waterfall. At one point, the water in the tunnel to the lakefront was several feet deep.

The record rainfall is also causing trouble for some of Chicago's popular tour boats and water taxis. Just one of the Chicago water taxi's three boats was able to navigate the river Friday morning.

Wendella Boats were also docked earlier Friday but they're now back up and running.

The storms also knocked out power in suburbs like Carol Steram and elsewhere. ComEd says 15,000 were without power by Friday morning. As of 3:30 p.m. Friday, there were still 10,000 customers in the dark.

For the Hawaiian-born Ono, happiness in Chicago is knowing you're prepared for whatever is next with the weather.

"Keep the sandbags out til September until the snow comes," Ono said.

In Elmhurst, drivers had to navigate through high waters on the inbound Eisenhower Expressway near Lake Street. The flooding was too much for a pickup truck that had to be pushed out of the high water. There have been no reports of any serious accidents in that area Friday morning.

People in far north suburban Gurnee also kept a close eye on the Des Plaines River and hoped it didn't overflow.

There was concern that if Gurnee got an inch and half of rain overnight, the river would spill over its banks.

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