Chicago area residents start cleaning up after flash flooding, Des Plaines River still under watch

ByTre Ward, Eric Horng, and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team via WLS logo
Monday, September 12, 2022
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Residents in the Chicago area are starting to clean up after heavy rains caused widespread flash flooding Sunday and Monday morning.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago area residents have begun cleaning up their homes and streets after heavy rains Sunday and Monday morning caused widespread flash flooding.

Parts of the Des Plaines River remain under a flood watch Monday afternoon, but ABC7 meteorologist Larry Mowry said it's largely precautionary, as the river might reach flood stage but only flood in the normal flood zone, with no impact to surrounding structures.

Several areas of the city were hit with flash flooding Sunday as a torrent of rain fell in a short amount of time.

The Office of Emergency Management and Communications said there were 1,485 service requests related to Sunday's flooding as of 10 a.m. Monday.

In West Ridge, Nichole Vidal's garden apartment was flooded. She said the water was relentless.

"The first thing I started saving was my work computer, first and foremost," she said. "That was the most important thing to me, then my big electronics. I started doing, putting my dog food away, trying to do the perishables. The water just started coming in. Every time I put something on the table, something else was floating away, so I was not catching up as fast as the water was coming in."

At the height of the downpour Sunday, water was seen shooting up like geysers from various sewer mains on the North Side. The city's Water Department said it's a very rare occurrence. The dropshafts in those tunnels are designed to release air when there's a heavy rain event. But Sunday's deluge was so intense, it created that geyser-like effect.

The intersection of Irving Park Rd. and Ravenswood Ave. in North Center saw a lot of flooding Sunday.

RELATED: Weather explained: What is a flash flood?

A picture from the area shows the floodwater blocking some people from getting to the nearby train.

The heavy rain also impacted other areas in and around the city.

In Melrose Park, cars were stuck in high water. In fact, a man was seen carrying a dog through the floodwater, leading them both to safety.

Several car were also stranded cars near Irving Park Road and Cicero.

The torrential rain is also a headache for homeowners who are having to clean up after their basements flooded.

"Lovely morning here," joked homeowner Scott Surma. "We get all the rain in the deluge. It was six to eight inches out in the streets and you get it in the sewers, and that's because they put the stoppers in the main sewer, so it backs up into the homeowners' sewer. You have eight inches of water, and this is a lovely thing to work with, especially on a Sunday for the Bears' opening game. I'd rather be watching the Bears than this lovely cleaning."

One Northwest Side business owner had to run in after getting a call about flooding.

"Most of it came out of that drain," said bRob Tovar, director at 2112 Incubator Chicago. ""We had to figure out ways to just get around Montrose, and Lawrence, and Irving. It was just complete stoppage. It came fast!"

High winds also toppled a tree onto a home in Albany Park.

"I looked out the window and I saw the tree coming, so I jumped and started running in the opposite direction," said Carlos Pappa, who lives in the house.

Sewer water was also seen spewing out on Foster and Ravenswood Avenues, leaving cars stranded. The downpour nearly swallowed some cars in Budlong Woods and came down at Soldier Field as Bears fans tailgated.

The city released a list of tips for preventing floods. Officials said residents should avoid running a dishwasher or washing machine during storms. They also said to disconnect downspout connections from the sewer system and direct flow to areas with permeable surfaces that can properly absorb the storm water, or use rain barrels to collect the rain directly from the downspouts.

City officials also recommended installing rain gardens, green landscaping or storm water trees in yards to help retain rainwater and resurfacing driveways, parking pads or patios with permeable pavements. They warned residents not to dump fats, oils and greases in private drains or public catch basins.