The northwest corner of North Riverside appeared to be the area most affected by a record rainfall from a slow-moving storm that drenched the Chicago region on July 2, overwhelming sewer systems, leading to widespread street and basement flooding.
While the National Weather Service did not have specific rainfall total for North Riverside, the northeast portion of Berwyn — the area closest to northwest North Riverside, was hit by a whopping 8.96 inches of rain.
The water service said the 3.35 inches of rain recorded at O’Hare Airport surpassed Chicago’s previous daily record rainfall of 2.06 inches set on July 2, 1982.
Vince Ranieri, North Riverside’s public works director, said the village received 6.3 inches of rain total, and that 5 inches of that total fell within a 3.5-hour period that morning.
“The west end of town was not too bad,” Ranieri said. “There was some flooding at 10th Avenue and 24th Street, but probably the worst area was around Northgate and Traube.”
The sewers in that part of the village are tied in with the system serving North Riverside Park Mall, whose south and west parking lots were inundated.
“Cars were completely underwater there,” Ranieri said.
The westernmost entrance to the mall off Cermak Road was blocked by barricades to prevent cars from venturing in. The parking lot in front of Urban Air along 25th Street, east of the mall, was also flooded.
While street flooding caused some inconvenience, Ranieri said having water in the streets was simply a matter of the sewer system not being able to keep up with that amount of rain.
“I’d rather have water sitting on the street than in people’s basements,” he said.
Meanwhile, Riverside received 6.04 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service. However, no streets closures were necessary, said Riverside Public Safety Director Matthew Buckley.
First Avenue, which, in heavy rain situations, routinely floods under the BNSF bridge, was clear the entire time, Buckley said. One factor that helped reduce flooding there was that the Des Plaines River never came close to flood stage.
The drought preceding the rain had reduced the river level to about 1.5 feet. While the Des Plaines rose rapidly on July 2, it crested at 5.88 feet, more than a foot below the 7-foot flood stage.
“We were pretty good,” said Buckley, who added that the only spot where water of any significance started pooling in the street was in the 3100 and 3200 block of Harlem Avenue.
However, there were plenty of basements and yards that flooded, perhaps none worse than Riverside resident Ken Circo, whose backyard near Shenstone and Harlem was under about 9 inches of water.
“My yard is the low spot in the neighborhood, so not only do we flood, but we get everyone else’s runoff, too,” Circo said. “This is the worst I’ve ever seen it. We had water halfway up the first step of our deck. Water’s never even come up to the deck before.”
No official total was recorded by the National Weather Service for Brookfield, but resident Allen Goodcase, who operates his own weather station at his home near Ehlert Park, reported getting 5.88 inches of rain.
Goodcase reported that southbound East Avenue was closed to traffic at 47th Street, the first time he’d ever seen that happen.
A portion of LaGrange Road was also closed between 49th Street and 51st Street. In addition, the low-lying position of Ogden Avenue underneath the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad viaduct flooded.