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Heavy rains cause flooding in local communities

citgo canopy photo 5 30

Photo by Dermot Connolly

The canopy of the Citgo gas station at 5025 W. 111th St., in Alsip, across the street from Oak Lawn, was among the casualties of the high winds that came through the area on Monday. Numerous trees fell down as well, blocking a few roads, and flash flooding was rampant throughout many local communities.

By Dermot Connolly

Just as many people were celebrating Memorial Day, torrential rains and high winds hit the southwest suburbs hard on Monday afternoon, particularly in communities such as Oak Lawn, Chicago Ridge and Hickory Hills.

Downed trees were seen throughout the area, sometimes blocking intersections such as 102nd and Keeler Avenue in Oak Lawn, and some residents in Chicago Ridge and elsewhere came home from weekends away to find their flooded yards littered with branches and downed power lines.

In Oak Lawn, 99th Street between Cicero Avenue and Pulaski Road were among many residential streets closed off temporality due to flooding.

“Oak Lawn took a big hit from Mother Nature. It was almost biblical in proportion,” said Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury on Tuesday. “The roads are clear now. We have been sending street sweepers out to collect the debris and clear off the storm drains,” she added, just as just as more rain started to fall.

“I am just looking at the weather. Public Works is ready for it. The crews have been doing an amazing job,” she said.

“But we are asking residents not to drive down flooded streets, because the wake pushes water back into neighbors’ yards and basements. It is heartbreaking to see those residents having to deal with water in their homes,” said the mayor.

Bury also used her Facebook page to caution residents against playing or taking boats onto the standing water, because of the possible dangers from debris in it.

She said the lowest-lying section of the village generally south of 103rd Street, including the Catholic parishes of St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Linus, was particularly hard hit on Monday.

Eastbound lanes of 111th Street, going through Worth and Chicago Ridge were also flooded, particularly between Ridgeland and Central Avenue beside Holy Sepulchre Cemetery flooded were also flooded, and at least one large tree toppled beside the cemetery fence next to the street. Less than a mile east, an enormous canopy collapsed over the gas pumps at a Citgo station at 5025 W. 111th St. in Alsip. An SUV with the driver inside escaped damage and there were no injuries reported.

Flooding was also reported along 97th and Roberts Road in Hickory Hills, near Conrady Junior High School. Flooding was also reported along 108th Street and Kilbourn Avenue in Oak Lawn.

“What happened (Monday), with two inches of rain coming down in less than an hour, is particularly difficult to handle. The infrastructure is just not able to handle it,” said the mayor. “One of the residents said that even though the rain stopped, the water was still coming into homes, because it naturally seeks the lowest level.”

“When Oak Lawn was originally built up, there wasn’t any thought given to storm drainage or detention. The idea was just to put up buildings, and wherever there wasn’t a building, a parking lot was put in,” she said. “And with the heavy storms coming more often than ever before, that is just not feasible any more.”

Bury said this latest deluge has caused the Village Board to refocus on its goal of purchasing and annexing the unused, western section of St. Casimir Cemetery, located on the south side of 111th Street at Cicero Avenue. The plan is to turn the land, much of which is already a wetland, into a retention pond to relieve the flooding on the south end of the village, and include amenities such as paths for cyclists and walkers to make it a site for recreation.

“The whole board is ready to commit the money necessary to make it a reality. We now just would like the Archdiocese of Chicago and Catholic Cemeteries to agree to the plan,” said the mayor.

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