Rain turns roads into 'rushing rivers'

Saturday deluge hits northeast Hinsdale hard as village, Tollway investigate cause

With the intersection of County Line Road and Walnut Street re-opened to traffic earlier this week, attention has turned to what caused unprecedented flooding in the northeast part of town Saturday.

"A priority for us was to get out there and do restoration and repairs," said Rocco Zucchero, chief planning officer for the Illinois Tollway. The flooding created several voids under the roadway that had to be stabilized, he said.

"Now we're shifting our focus with the village to start conducting the investigations," Zucchero said.

Prior to the flooding, the Tollway had been working with heavy machinery along the southern edge of Peirce Park, and a piping system is visible near home plate of the baseball field closest to Wellness House. That and other areas will be assessed, Zucchero said.

"We're looking at everything throughout the entire project area," he said. "We have to wait for the water in all of the pipes to subside before we can get in and conduct a full investigation."

Village manager Kathleen Gargano said the village is working with its engineering firm, HR Green, and the Tollway to determine the cause of the event.

She and other village staffers have been on site every day since water began to build Saturday afternoon.

"Many were already in town because they anticipate, with heavy rains, at time some localized flooding can occur," she said. "This was not the usual type of flooding that would occur in a rain event."

One resident who lives near County Line and Walnut and asked not to be named said she had 3 feet of water in a basement that has always been dry.

"It just started rushing in a couple of our basement windows," she said. "We couldn't stop it. A lot of our kids' toys were floating down the driveway."

Everything in her basement - from toys, treadmills and furniture to the hot water heater, furnace and washer and dryer - was lost. Her driveway has buckled and her landscaping is ruined as well. She estimated damages could reach as high as $200,000.

"It was all very scary and it happened very fast," she said, adding that she would like to know the cause of the flooding.

Gargano assured residents that village officials will work to determine what caused an area that typically does not flood to have knee-deep water on many streets.

"The village will continue to look into the cause of this flooding so we can ensure that it doesn't happen again," she said.

She said she knows from personal experience what it's like to have your basement flood.

"I believe all of us at some point in our lives have lived through flooding, and it's just one of those things that makes you feel truly helpless - and then (there's) the cleanup that has to occur afterwards," she said. "It's a difficult situation and I empathize with all the residents."

To help with the cleanup, the village has scheduled a special pickup today, July 1, for residents who live in the affected area (Garfield to the Tollway and the train tracks to Ogden Avenue).

Damaged furniture, carpet and other household items may be placed at the curb without garbage stickers. Loose items should be properly bagged or bundled. Construction debris such as drywall and scrap lumber will not be collected. All materials should be at the curb by 6 a.m. to ensure pick-up. A separate truck will be collecting flood-damaged items. Residents who have questions related to this collection should call (630) 789-7042.

Gargano also encouraged residents who have been affected to send an email to [email protected]. Emails will be forwarded, when appropriate, to the Tollway.

"We are updating our website as additional information becomes available," she said.

Author Bio

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean