Chicago flooding 2023: Austin residents want answers after homes flooded in recent storms

Chicago weather is set to bring more rain Wednesday

Evelyn Holmes Image
Wednesday, July 12, 2023
Austin residents pack meeting to address flood damage
Chicago residents dealing with damage from flooding packed a West Side meeting Tuesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- West Side residents are frustrated after last week's damaging floods.

They packed the Columbus Park Refectory Tuesday morning.

Relief can't come fast enough for Yvette McCallum. Storms flooded her garden apartment in the 4800-block of Iowa Street.

"I lost everything," McCallum said. "I mean everything. Then the next day after the flood, I lost my car."

The Austin resident was one of many attending a morning meeting at the Columbus Park, looking for a reason why their neighborhoods keep flooding.

Heavy rains sparked flooding the weekend of July 2.

Officials with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District said they're doing everything they can.

"This area received 8 inches of rain in 12 hours," said Kari Steele, with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. "That's unheard of. So it was simply too much stormwater in a short amount of time that had to get through local infrastructure."

But some of the flooded out residents aren't buying that and are calling for transparency from the agency.

SEE ALSO | Chicago flooding: Hundreds pack meeting in Austin about West Side problems, clean up

"The first thing we lost was our furnace, which cost $12,000," flood victim Jake Towers said. "This was not an act of God. We usually say this was an act of God. This was something that was done by the city."

The meeting was organized by Pastors Ira Acree and Marshall Hatch and their Leaders Network organization

Several aldermen and other elected officials renewed their calls for state and local government to step in and help by declaring a state of emergency in the affected areas.

Later on Tuesday, Gov. JB Pritzker issued a disaster proclamation for Cook County, along with a number of counties downstate after the severe weather from the end of June into July.

"Many Illinois communities suffered extensive damages due to last week's torrential rain and severe weather," Pritzker said in a statement. "To support those impacted across the state, I have signed a disaster proclamation to mobilize every available resource, accelerating the recovery process and providing relief for our residents. I want to thank IEMA-OHS for their ongoing coordination."

Some said even nine days after the flooding, houses are still underwater. Some residents said insurance companies have told them their policies won't cover the damage to their homes.

That's bad news for these residents, as another round of heavy rain is expected Wednesday.

"They can't do nothing about the sentimental things, but I need the essentials are stuff I need," flood victim Denise Shorter said.