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Friday, April 19

Flooding In Chicago: the REAL STORY with pictures.

My wife wrote this in response to our alderman's response to being prepared in this article:

In response to the following "Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th) said the city would work to develop a flood plan for Foster Avenue, but she felt confident about the response to the floods. “We are a little more prepared this time,” said Laurino. “We’re sandbagging, they’re sending the fire department up and down streets, though they can’t force people to leave their homes.”

I live on the 4900 block of N. Saint Louis Ave where it dead ends at the Chicago River. When I purchased the condo it was not in a flood zone, and the last flood was in 1987. After the 2008 flood I have carefully monitored weather so I would not be unprepared again. On Tuesday I called Laurino's office to tell them that the neighborhood needed proactive help to prevent loss because the river was going to flood again to the proportion of 2008. First, I got bounced around between her office and another Ward office because my street is now in a new Ward. However, the new Ward wasn't fully transitioned so Laurino's staffer agreed to take responsibility. I told her that if the Alderman's office could advocate on our behalf for two things - opening the locks ahead of extreme high water and sandbags prior to the river overflowing the banks - that would mitigate the flooding to the neighborhood and the subsequent expense. The staffer dutifully took that down and even called me back to tell me the city had no sandbags available due to budget cuts. Comforting.

Ok, so they could have dismissed me as paranoid, but after NOAA issued a Hydrologic Outlook for moderate to major flooding on the North Branch of the Chicago River last night, a thing the NOAA have NEVER done, perhaps that would be the time to open the locks and prepare the sandbags. But, it was 10:30pm so it can wait till the morning. At 6am the river was at 8.22 feet. But, it had not yet spilled into the street, at least on my block. They could have started sandbagging, or left us with sand and bags at that time. At 6am I called 311. They said they would get someone from the city water department to call me back. No call. At 8:30am we had a torrential downpour of about another inch of rain. A city water person drove down our street and agreed with me that it was pretty bad and they were sending everything they had. No one showed up. By the time I gave up trying to sandbag our front door, etc. and left nature to its devices at 11am we saw a few police directing traffic on Ainslie, one firetruck blocking the way on Central Park at Argyle, and a lone tow truck removing flooded vehicles. 

The heavy rains and flooding are our new reality. The city shouldn't be working on a plan - they should have HAD a plan. 2008 was a wakeup call. 2010 was a dodged bullet. This time they should have been ready. The plan shouldn't be to wait until factors are beyond mitigation and to simply repair the damage at great time and expense. But then, that's my problem, right?

Check the pics below.  This is how "prepared" our alderman's office was.  These photos were taken within the same hour, not over the course of several hours. As you can see, no one from the City is helping out, (ahem), I mean "showing off how prepared they are to the residents to pay their salaries."

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