Chicago Weather: Heavy rain floods streets, homes in south suburbs

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Thursday, June 27, 2019
Chicago Weather: Heavy rain floods streets, homes in south suburbs
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Heavy rains led to washed out roads and underwater neighborhoods in the south suburbs Thursday morning.

STEGER, Ill. (WLS) -- Heavy rains led to washed out roads and underwater neighborhoods in the south suburbs Thursday morning.

The high water led to some dramatic rescues. Crews had to rescue an 83-year-old man who was trapped in a partially submerged car in Steger east of Emerald Avenue on 33rd Street where the neighborhood flooded. The fire department was able to convince the man to get out of his car and they walked him to safety.

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"He's in about maybe four or five feet of water and it's really, really bad," said tow truck driver Hakim Hillman. "He stated to me he's 83 years old and doesn't want to get out of his car. I have the fire department here."

There was also a water rescue on Sauk Trail east of Western Avenue near Thorn Creek where a girl on the roof of her car moved to the hood and then climbed onto a fire engine.

Several homeowners spent Thursday afternoon pumping gallons of water out of their flooded basements.

Javier and Blanca Hernandez have been married for three years, and have lived in their home for a year. They said this has been a difficult day.

"Definitely one of the worst" days, Blanca said.

Javier said he was working when the storms started but his next door neighbor called him and told him to check his basement for water.

"I just got a phone call saying, 'Hey, my basement is flooding, you should check yours.' I called her and said - go down there, check it out, and see what's going on," Javier said.

Blanca said when she checked the basement the water was nearly to the ceiling.

Even though there is much to clean up, Javier said he's been able to find an upside to the situation.

"The good thing is our basement wasn't done. That's the good thing, but you've seen it, it's real bad down there," Javier Hernandez said. "It's going to be a couple of months before we get everything back up and running. We'll see. We'll take it day by day."

Rick Phillips has lived in Steger here since 1977. He said he can't remember the last time the neighborhood dealt with this much flood damage.

"This is by far the most water I've ever seen in this area," Phillips said. "When I got up after midnight this just looked like a lake, completely, completely flooded."

Residents said most of their items can be replaced, but many lost irreplaceable sentimental items.

The Hernandez family said most of their 2-year-old daughter Mia's baby belongings, were destroyed in their basement.

"Her baby clothes, spare bed," Javier said.

"Her stroller, everything we had everything down there. It's just horrible," Blanca said.

Steger resident Theresa Gamboa said the water has flooded her basement, which means she may have lost some of her precious photos.

"My mom passed away six years ago and it's still tough and all the stuff is down there is photo albums and stuff and it's heartbreaking," Gamboa said. "It's all we have left.

Her white car she takes to work was also under water.

Meanwhile, some Steger residents saw trees come down on top of power lines. Many were in shock as they watched water seep into their homes overnight.

"It's too much for the sump pumps to handle, so we put an extra one down there this morning and still we got it," said Steger resident Laura Morris.

What is a severe thunderstorm?

The Stachulak family lives off of 31st place and Chicago Road. They're dealing with at least five feet of water in their basement.

"We have really good insurance through Farmer's Insurance in Steger ,so I'm really happy about that," Mary Stachulak said. "I think we're more fortunate than most that don't have insurance and aren't covered."

Chopper 7 HD captured some of the widespread flooding that also punished Northwest Indiana.

"It happens a lot, but never it's never been this bad," said Don Wiley of J.B. Construction. "It's worse than I've ever seen it."

Which is worse: Watch or Warning?

Over a 24 hour period, Park Forest received 3.64 inches of rain and Crete received 3.1 inches of rain. Heavy rain also moved through Crown Point, making it difficult for people to drive or get around.

Flood waters were receding but much of the damage has already been done. Flash Flood Warnings were in effect in parts of southern Cook County and northeast Will County until 8:30 a.m.