HIGHLAND PARK – It’s been a bumper year for flash floods, starting July 11 and 12 with streets under water resulting in road closures, but the rainfall on October 14 broke the record for the wettest day in recent history.
“The reason properties are experiencing increased flooding is because the area has experienced frequent events of record-breaking rainfall in a shorter amount of time,” said Highland Park City Manager Ghida Neukirch. “The flash flood on Saturday, October 14 broke records for the wettest day in recent history. Over four inches of rain fell nonstop, on an already saturated ground, resulting in flooding throughout the area. According to the National Weather Service, the measured rainfall was the fourth-highest two-day total ever recorded in October.”
Neukirch explained that the ground was soaked from the previous rainfall on October 12, and 13, and the additional four inches of rain on Saturday, October 14 had an “intensified effect on the Skokie River and Middle Fork resulting in overtopping banks, sewers surcharging and street flooding.”
Neukirch answered some frequently asked flooding questions in an electronic newsletter and mailing to Highland Park residents. Below are some highlights from the letter:
What is Highland Park doing to remedy this problem?
Neukirch: Mayor Nancy R. Rotering has requested Congressman Brad Schneider, the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), and Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor to coordinate a meeting with the municipalities along the Skokie River and Middle Fork to address flood recovery efforts and implement additional stormwater management plans in response to the severe flooding that has impacted Highland Park and other communities throughout Lake County.
The Mayor and City staff met with representatives from Lake County Emergency Management Agency, State of Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Red Cross, neighboring municipalities and numerous other Lake County agencies and organizations throughout July to explore and advance flood mitigation solutions following the July 11-12 storm. Several possible solutions have been reviewed including: Lake County’s Flood Mitigation Assistance program (home buyouts), localized storage reservoir solution efforts in cooperation with Lake County, and dredging the Skokie River.
The Chicago Botanic Garden confirmed that even though the property stores over 100 million gallons of floodwater during storm events, no further flood mitigation is available and there is no mechanism in place to assist with flood mitigation efforts during storm events. A regional study will be needed to best meet the needs of our community, which will require cooperation from entities along the two rivers.
Which Highland Park neighborhoods are the most flood prone?
Neukirch: A portion of Highland Park, the low-lying areas adjacent to the two rivers, falls into the floodplain. Properties within the floodplain are susceptible to flooding. The flooding greatly impacts residential properties located near the Skokie River and the Middle Fork as water flows from north (Old Elm Road) to the south (Lake Cook Road) within Highland Park. The Skokie River discharges into the Chicago Botanic Garden, whereas the Middle Fork drains into the Northbrook Court pond. Both these rivers ultimately merge and flow through Cook County Forest Preserve property, west of Wilmette Golf Course.
How can residents help flood proof their homes?
Neukirch: To minimize flooding risk on your property either in basement or yard, residents are strongly encouraged to follow these preventative maintenance tips:
- Inspect flood protection devices such as backflow preventers, sump pumps, and battery backups, check valves, standpipes, etc., to be in good working condition.
- Storm (rainwater) and sanitary (wastewater) lateral service pipes (running from home to street) should be free of roots and debris. Have these lateral services inspected and cleaned by authorized licensed plumbers.
- Storm lateral service pipe should not be connected to sanitary lateral service pipe or vice-versa. These two lateral pipes should remain separate and be connected separately to City storm and sanitary main pipes. Contact an authorized licensed plumber for inspection and verification. If a cross connection exists, obtain a building permit for corrected work.
- All exterior drains such as window well drains, outside yard drains, gutters, street drains, etc., should be clear of debris, leaves, and other obstructions.
- Install an overhead sanitary system to alleviate sewer backups.
For more information visit: www.cityhpil.com/flooding .