Flood victims want action on claims

By Ken Knutson

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Residents of northeast Hinsdale who suffered property damage from flooding during a June 26 storm believe work related to the Tri-State Tollway expansion is to blame but are still waiting for compensation.

The Illinois Tollway said insurance companies are still working to determine liability but has not completed its review.

A number of affected residents attended Tuesday’s village board meeting to enlist the village’s help addressing their damage claims, some as high as $100,000 according to one homeowner. John Bloomfield of the 500 block of Fuller Road told trustees that such incidents never happened before the project.

“In the 17 years that I’ve been here, we’ve never had anything close to that,” Bloomfield said of the flooding in the areas of Fuller and Phillippa roads and Walnut Avenue and County Line Roads that left some residents with more than three feet of water in their basements. “Clearly something else is going on.”

Efforts to get the Tollway to communicate the status of its investigation, let alone make payments, have yielded little, he contended.

“This is proceeding at a snail’s pace,” Bloomfield said. “It’s three months later, and we not only don’t have anything in terms of remuneration, but we don’t even have any word about what’s supposed to be happening.”

Sympathizing with the residents while stressing that the village was not at fault, Village President Tom Cauley bemoaned the apparent finger-pointing among the Tollway, its contractor Walsh Construction and subcontractor Archon. He said the time had come for the village to step in.

“We’re working with the Tollway to make good on the residents’ claims,” Cauley said. “There was an issue between the Tollway and the residents, and we were going to let that run its course in hopes that worked out well. Now we’ve concluded it’s not working out well. Now we can get involved.”

Representing the Tollway, Lanyea Griffin, deputy chief of program implementation, called a report cited by residents that seems to place blame with a project subcontractor “hearsay” and said the Tollway has not seen it. She tried to assure residents the agency is committed to resolving the matter but the investigation is ongoing.

“There just is no final determination yet,” Griffin said, adding that she has been having daily conversations with Tollway Executive Director José Alvarez about the matter. “I am reaching out to Walsh and Archon to make sure we get the report, and then we’re continuing to investigate and to make sure that we’re getting it resolved as quickly as possible.”

She also expressed sympathy for the residents’ ordeal.

“Ninety days is not fair, it is not right and we want to see it resolved just as quickly as you do,” Griffin said.

Cauley asked if the Tollway could advance payouts to the flood victims and then recover the money from the liable party once the investigation concludes. Griffin said she was not authorized to make that decision.

Cauley said the village would send a letter to Alvarez and offered to go with residents to the agency’s next board meeting Thursday, Oct. 21, to voice their grievances.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean