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

Eric Horng Image
Friday, July 7, 2023
Hundreds pack meeting on West Side flooding
Hundreds of people packed a meeting with the city in Austin to express anger and frustration about Chicago flooding on the West Side.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Hundreds of people packed a meeting with the city in Austin to express anger and frustration about West Side flooding.

The meeting was organized by a local community group and quickly spread by word of mouth. People were arriving up until the end, and they gave local officials an earful.

"We need to start being treated like the taxpayers we are!" said one woman.

READ MORE: Chicago cleans up after torrential rain leads to flash floods

The attendees said Sunday's deluge left their basements filled with water.

"Well, I got four feet of water in my basement, so my furnace is gone. My hot water heater is gone, and I have furniture down there," said Erica Perkins.

At one Austin senior building alone, 70 residents were displaced after flooding knocked out the power.

RELATED: Highways shut down, vehicles stuck amid dangerous flash floods

Melissa Young and her mother both had their basements flooded, and four of their relatives in Austin also took in water.

"What happened? How it happened? How can we prevent it from happening again? And is there some form of compensation?" she asked.

"We've got to prove that we need help, and I need your help to help us prove that!" said 37th Ward Alderwoman Emma Mitts.

SEE MORE: Inside the decision to reverse the Chicago River

The room was sweltering as victims just kept arriving to a space meant only for dozens, so the meeting was moved outside. But that did little to cool tempers.

"That's our message. Call the mayor. Call the governor. Call your commissioner. Call your congressional leaders," said Pastor Ira Acree, Great St. John Bible Church.

At the meeting, officials called on Governor JB Pritzker to declare a state of emergency and seek federal dollars. ABC7 reached out to the governor's office for a statement but did not hear back by the time this story was aired.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency responded a short time later, saying, "EMA-OHS has been working closely with the city of Chicago, Cicero, Berwyn, municipalities in Cook County, and across the state. Damage assessments will continue through all of these areas. Chicago residents are asked to submit their damage assessment through the City's 3-1-1 system."