BEVERLY — Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th) has called for an investigation after flooding hit Beverly, Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood on the city’s Far Southwest Side over the weekend.
More than 500 calls about basement flooding were reported to 311 as of Monday evening, O’Shea said. From 3 a.m. to 4:15 a.m. Sunday, about 2.3 inches of rain fell in Morgan Park, O’Shea said.
Even residents from outside the city were contacting O’Shea’s office, he said, as they fielded complaints from neighbors in suburban Blue Island, Evergreen Park and Oak Lawn. Gauges in nearby suburban Evergreen Park and Oak Lawn totaled 3.4 inches of water, the alderman said.
“It’s safe to say that if Oak Lawn and Evergreen Park got 3.4 inches, and Mount Greenwood and Beverly are right next door, they got crushed, too,” O’Shea said.
Judy Brenzing, of Mount Greenwood, said her fully furnished basement was badly flooded.
“We had to have a restoration company come out and rip out all the carpet and padding and put down anti-mold spray,” Brenzing said.
O’Shea emailed 19th Ward residents Monday saying he was pushing for an investigation from the city’s Department of Water Management and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. He also said numerous trees were badly damaged.
“Given the unusually high volume of flooded basement incidents, I’ve asked the Chicago Department of Water Management (DWM) and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) to conduct a thorough investigation and report back to the community any information and recommendations possible,” O’Shea wrote.
Allison Fore, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, said agency officials think “this was a very intense, very local storm that overwhelmed the city’s sewer system.”
“The [Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s] deep tunnel system was completely open and available and took on water during the storm, but due to the extreme intensity, the local sewers likely couldn’t deliver such large amounts of water that fell in a very short period of time,” Fore said.
The rainstorm almost exclusively hit the Southwest Side and nearby suburbs, as Fore said there was “virtually no rain” on the North Side during that time, and only a quarter of an inch was measured at the agency’s gauge at 95th Street and the Skyway.
The city’s Water Department could not immediately be reached Tuesday.
O’Shea said the volume of complaints he’s fielded are evidence of a system-wide failure.
“If 30 people had a flooded basement, it could be a breakdown. But if we are looking at more than 400 already, that’s the whole system not being able to handle that volume,” O’Shea said. “Basements are going to recede when the sewer system can’t handle that amount of water.”
Charyvette-ly Price-Hasbun, whose Mount Greenwood basement was flooded, said her family moved to the neighborhood five months ago. Now she has to buy a new water heater because the sensor got wet during Sunday morning’s storm.
“It’s been very stressful,” Price-Hasbun said. “It was about 3:45 a.m. when my dad, who was in the basement, told me it was flooding. He’s about [6 feet tall], and the water was up to his knees. It was sewer water. The toilet was flushing water like a fountain; we could not stop it.”
It’s the worst flooding Price-Hasbun’s experienced since surviving a hurricane in Miami 23 years ago, she said.
“We’ve cleaned up as much as we can, but it still smells really bad due to the sewage, and the walls are wet,” she said. “This isn’t new for us, but we just bought this house, so we want to know what happened.”
O’Shea urged residents to continue reporting flooded homes to 311.
“To be effective, this investigation will need as much specific data as possible about the problem,” he wrote in the email. “It’s critically important that each and every flooded basement is documented, so we can verify the restrictors are in place and function properly.”
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