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Brookfield President Michael Garvey on Monday night declared a state of emergency in the village after a record rainfall overnight on July 23 caused widespread flooding near Salt Creek.

From 8 p.m. on Friday until 8 a.m. Saturday, Salt Creek rose eight feet, according to a streamflow gauge in Western Springs monitored by the U.S. Geological Survey. The river crested just above 10 feet and on Saturday afternoon overflowed its banks.

Flood water flowed throughout the 3500 and 3600 blocks of Forest Avenue, deluging basements. Some residents reported up to four or five feet of water in their basements. Water rushed in through ground-level windows, and sewers were so overwhelmed that there were reports of water gushing out of basement standpipes, drains and toilets.

“I’m on high ground and had no water around my house, but I had water shooting out of my standpipe,” said Daryl Swift, who has lived in the 3600 block of Forest Avenue for 18 years. “It was just blowing out. … I’ve been pumping all night.”

In the basement of Ed Banenas’ home in the 3500 block of Forest Avenue, water pressure was so great that it buckled the concrete floor, creating a convex area in the middle of the foundation where water burst through.


Next door, Banenas’ brother-in-law, Zilvinas Kunickas said when the creek overtopped its banks mid-afternoon on Saturday his basement filled with four feet of water within a half hour.

“This is definitely worse than two years ago,” said Kunickas, referring to the September 2008 flood that followed three days of record rains. “I had a foot of water in my garage. Now everything is gone, my furnace, water heater, washer and dryer.”

While the intersection of Washington and Prairie avenues flooded early on, things appeared to stabilize about midday. Then at about 3 p.m., things started growing worse. Public works trucks began hauling loads of sand to the intersection while neighbors filled sandbags and started barricading homes.

At the height of the flooding, water reached another block west, to Vernon Avenue. It wasn’t until 11 p.m., said Vernon Avenue resident Jose Medina, that residents were certain the waters were beginning to recede.

A similar story was being told in the South Hollywood section of Brookfield, where the low section near the creek at Arden and Southview was under several feet of water. Meanwhile, residents in the isolated and flood-prone Cech Terrace subdivision of Lyons immediately south of Southview, felt they had dodged a bullet – until the banks overflowed.

“Around one or two o’clock [in the afternoon] it was like someone opened the floodgates,” said Gerry Perzyna, who ended up with five feet of water in his basement. “[Saturday] night the water was waist deep in the street and it had a current, coming from the creek.”

According to the National Weather Service 6.78 inches of rain fell in Riverside during the overnight hours of July 23 and 24. The agency reported that at O’Hare Airport, rainfall eclipsed the previous one-day rainfall total by two inches. That record had been set in 1900.

Residents of Forest Avenue and on other blocks in Brookfield complained in the aftermath of the flooding that the village’ sewer system was not working properly and that valves on outflow pipes to the creek weren’t functioning right.

People on blocks where there has been recent street work, like Forest Avenue and the 4000 block of Grove Avenue, complained that prior to the improvements they had never seen such flooding. Since 2008, streets have backed up several times.

However, village officials stated that sewers were functioning normally and that flooding would have been worse had the village not started installing separate storm sewers underneath main streets in the 1980s.

Meanwhile, the village has sent its declaration of a state of emergency to Cook County President Todd Stroger, who declared the county a disaster area Tuesday.

Residents affected by the flooding are being asked to fill out forms detailing the damage to aid in the village qualifying for state or federal aid. The village has set a deadline of Aug. 6 for the forms to be turned in. They may be obtained at the village hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave., or online at www.brookfieldil.gov.

Riverside spared major flooding

While the heavy rains quickly swelled the Des Plaines River, which topped out at 9.22 feet – the fourth highest crest on record in Riverside – flooding did not come close to repeating the village’s experience in 2008, when hundreds of people had to be evacuated from the area near the river.

West Avenue and parts of Pine and Forest avenues received some water, and a few residents near the corner of Pine and West chose to evacuate. For the most part, though, the anecdotal verdict, was that it could have been worse.

“In 2008 the house was surrounded,” said Bart Dziekonski, who lives in a multiunit building at the corner of West and Forest avenues. “This time it came down the driveway.”

Sandbags and pumps helped keep damage to the basement minimal, Dziekonski said.

Flooding did snarl traffic into Sunday afternoon, however. First Avenue was closed on two separate occasions Saturday and did not reopen until late afternoon Sunday. Forest Avenue was also closed to traffic much of the day Saturday and into Sunday, as was a portion of Fairbank Road.