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Flooding Prevention Tips

Communities throughout Lake County experienced record-breaking rainfall and flash flooding on Saturday, October 14, 2017 topping creeks and rivers, and flooding streets.  Several roads were closed and there were reports of flooded basements. Public Works staff, Police and Fire Personnel in cooperation with the City Manager's Office responded to public safety concerns and emergencies. The ground was already saturated from the persistent rainfall on Thursday, October 12, 2017 and Friday, October 13, 2017 and the additional 4 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. The rainfall on Saturday, October 14 broke the record for the wettest day in recent history.

“The recent storms in Highland Park have created a frustrating and challenging experience for our community,” stated Mayor Nancy Rotering. “Long-term flood mitigation is a priority in our hometown and region. Flooding related to extreme weather will not be going away nationwide or in our own backyard without coordinated efforts. We are taking the lead.”

Mayor Rotering has requested Congressman Brad Schneider, the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), and Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor coordinate a public 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 have impacted Highland Park and other communities throughout Lake County.

Since July, the Mayor and staff have met with staff met with representatives from the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission (LCSMC), the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC), Village of Northbrook, Village of Deerfield, and the Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG), the Red Cross, and the Army Corps of Engineers to explore and advance flood mitigation solutions following the July 11-12 storm that devastated parts of Highland Park and dozens of communities throughout Lake County. Several possible flood mitigation solutions have been reviewed to-date and exhausted. A regional study is necessary to best meet the needs of our community, which will require cooperation from entities along the two rivers.

The City will continue to issue communication alerts via its electronic newsletter, website and social media. Residents are encouraged to sign up for the City eNews and the City’s emergency notification system by visiting www.cityhpil.com/signup.  

 For additional information please contact the City Manager’s Office at 847.926.1000.

Frequently Asked Questions 
Storm Recovery Efforts - What is the City doing? 
Public Works staff, Police and Fire Personnel in cooperation with the City Manager's Office responded to public safety concerns and emergencies.

Mayor Nancy R. Rotering has requested Congressman Brad Schneider, the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), and Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor 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 that devastated parts of Highland Park and dozens of communities throughout Lake County. Several possible solutions have been reviewed and exhausted 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 (CBG) 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.

The City pursued State and Federal assistance to aid with flood recovery costs and efforts in July. Highland Park residents whose properties were impacted by flood damage were asked to complete an online Flood Impact Report Form. City Council and staff went door-to-door in affected areas to assist residents with these forms to maximize the chance that residents would receive monetary assistance.

Why Did We Flood?
The flooding resulted from the amount of rainfall that fell on the Skokie River and Middle Fork watershed area. With the ground already saturated prior to Saturday rains, additional rainfall inundated the storm sewers and the two rivers. It is simply too much rain in too short a time. The low lying areas including floodplain areas are at risk of flooding with the overtopping of banks and sewers surcharges.

Is My Home is on a Floodplain?
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. By their very definition, these areas are governed by Federal, State, and local regulations. The City adopted two floodplain regulations, one is the FEMA floodplain that is required to provide subsidized flood insurance and the City’s floodplain. The City floodplain area is a higher threshold than FEMA’s to protect the homes.  The floodplain map can also be viewed on the City’s website under Interactive Maps (click Floodplain Layer).

 The Illinois Residential Real Property Disclosure Act
The Illinois Residential Real Property Disclosure Act requires that all home sellers disclose whether or not the home for sale is in a floodplain. Residents who are unsure if their property is in a floodplain can visit the FEMA website.

 The Flooding on My Property Has Worsened
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. Saturday’s flash flood broke records for the wettest day in recent history. Over 4 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.

What Can I Do To Stop Flooding?
Unfortunately, the risk of flooding cannot be completely prevented, especially for those living in the floodplain areas, but there are certain things that can be done to your property to help mitigate the flooding and help alleviate some damage.

 Flooding Prevention Tips
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. 

 Residents experiencing flooding should:

  • Use reasonable precautions to protect family from contaminated or flooded waters;
  • Restrict use of plumbing appliances until rains subside including dishwasher, showers, toilets, laundry and other appliances;
  • Identify source of flooding and call appropriate licensed professional;

 If you are experiencing a sanitary sewer backup, in addition to calling a licensed plumber please also contact Public Works Department at 847.432.0807 (during business hours) or 847.432.7730 (after-hours).

Voluntary Sewer Lateral Cost Share Program
The purpose of the Voluntary Sewer Lateral Cost-Sharing Program is to assist homeowners in minimizing house and property flooding due to sanitary sewer surcharges by addressing the condition of the private sewer lateral, through full lining or complete replacement, or overhead plumbing or other approved sewer backflow-preventing devices.  If approved for the Program, residents would be eligible for up to 20% or a maximum of $1,260 reimbursement, whichever is less of the total cost of the private sewer lateral rehabilitation. Learn more.

 Storm Recovery Contact Information
City Public Works Dept.              847.432.0807
City After-Hours                              847.432.7730
ComEd                                                    800.334.7661
North Shore Gas                               866.556.6004
Lake County Health Dept.          847.377.8000
AT&T Landline Service                 800.288.2020
Lakeshore Recycling Systems  773.685.8811
Emergency Assistance                 911

 Find helpful flood information on the Lake County Emergency Management Agency website.

Health Risks Related to Floodwater Contact
The Lake County Health Department has provided important health and safety information to protect individuals in the event of a flood. Read their comprehensive tips about how to stay safe when and after flooding has occurred.

How Do I Dispose of Items Damaged by the Flood?
If you have items that need to be removed due to flood damage, please call Lakeshore Recycling at 773.685.8811 for pricing and to schedule a pickup.

Street Closure Information
For updated road conditions, please visit Lake County PASSAGE at www.lakecountypassage.com.

Where can I report and find out what streets are flooded in a storm?
Flooded streets can be reported 24/7 by using the City’s Non-Emergency Request Tracker on the City website. This feature can be used to report flooding and view streets that have already been reported.   This link can also be used to report other service requests to the City.

Residents can also report street flooding by calling Public Works at 847.432.0807 during business hours or calling police non-emergency after-hours at 847.432.7730.

Signup for City Communication
eNews & Social Media
The City will continue to issue communication alerts via eNews, the website, and social media.   When the City receives an alert from the Lake County Emergency Management Agency, the alert is then sent out through the City’s Public Safety Alerts eNews, posted on the City website, and posted on our social media pages (Facebook and Twitter). Residents are encouraged to sign up for the City eNews and Public Safety Alerts eNews at www.cityhpil.com/signup

 Emergency Notification System
The City of Highland Park has an Emergency Voice Notification System, a high-speed telephone communication service for emergency notifications. The system allows the City to telephone the entire community or a targeted area in the event of an emergency that requires immediate action. The system is only used in emergency situations such as a boil order notification, missing persons, evacuation notices, gas leaks or other emergencies where rapid notification is essential for public safety. Published residential and business telephone numbers are automatically downloaded into the system. Residents with unlisted numbers or cell phones should register to ensure they receive notification. Sign up at www.cityhpil.com/signup.

Infrastructure Investments
In 2017 the City of Highland Park approved a concrete street repair program to replace deteriorating sections of concrete streets. This project includes Tanglewood Ct and Cambridge Ct. A complete list of infrastructure investments and details can be found at www.cityhpil.com/construction.

Neighborhood Meetings
Centennial and Highlands Neighborhood Meeting Presentation - August 3, 2017

Highland Park Flood Plains
Highland Park Flood Plain Map