Gov. Quinn Visits Elmhurst, Promises Investment of Public Money for Flood Control [VIDEO]

"We have to do better at water management and flood control. We need to invest public money to protect property," Quinn said.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn was in Elmhurst Thursday afternoon with Elmhurst City Manager Jim Grabowski and mayors from other west suburban communities to urge residents to stay away from flood waters and keep track of the expenses they incur as a result of flood damage. He also repeatedly mentioned the state's need to invest more money in flood control.

But the immediate concern, he said, is to "help people get through this very serious matter" with sandbags, generators and other assistance.

Find all Elmhurst flood stories in one place by clicking here.

"One of the homeowners here in Elmhurst got 7 feet of water in their basement," Quinn said. "I've seen it first hand."

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is "very concerned about the next few days," Quinn said, adding that rivers in Illinois could overflow their banks at any time.

"We have very grave concerns that certain waterways will go way above flood stage. We don't want to take anything for granted," he said.

Elmhurst Acting Mayor Scott Levin declared a state of emergency for Elmhurst this morning, and Quinn declared a state of emergency for Illinois, which potentially will give the state access to federal resources to pay for damages.

Grabowski said this storm has produced more rain in Elmhurst than any of the major storms of 2010 or 1987. He spoke about the work Elmhurst has done so far on its stormwater and sanitary plan, spending "in excess of $1 million" to put together a plan for southwest Elmhurst.

Some of the questions directed to Quinn and Grabowski were specifically about Elmhurst, and pointed to the repeated flooding in this area.

"It's all over our state, not only here in Elmhurst," Quinn said. "Every community is part of Illinois today, whether in LaSalle County, Quincy, Elmhurst, Des Plaines or any other town—particularly towns close to waterways.

"We have to do better at water management and flood control. We need to invest public money to protect property," he said.

The state is assessing where the investments will have to be made, he said.

"We just have to rise up and work together to deal with the emergency now, and we'll assess ways to prevent flooding in the future," he said.

He emphasized the importance of homeowners keeping records of exactly how much flood repairs cost so they can apply for assistance.

"Keep track of all your facts and figures in order to get any type of recovery. Keep track of all expenses," he said.

Quinn was joined by mayors from Des Plaines, Westchester and Lombard. They mentioned that hundreds of homes are flooded, streets are still totally submerged, cars are stranded and detention basins are full.

More rain is headed this way.

"If it rains another couple of inches, we're going to be where we were at 5 o'clock this morning," Lombard Acting President William Ware said.


  • Gov. Quinn Declares State of Emergency
  • Rainfall Totals in Chicago Suburbs
  • City of Elmhurst Has Declared a State of Emergency
  • Photo Gallery: DuPage County Underwater in Spring Flood
  • We Haven't Reached 2.7 Billion Gallons—Yet
  • Angry Elmhurst Residents Under Water; City of Elmhurst Issues Statement

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Dante Laudati April 18, 2013 at 07:17 PM
I invested $2500.00 two years ago because my sewers kept backing up and the insurance company was complaining. HOWEVER<<<<< since I'm in North Elmhurst I could not qualify for funds that people get who put in overhead sewers. I would like my 3rd ward aldermen to contact me.
Jim R April 18, 2013 at 07:18 PM
Seems one of the improvements made was to get rid of the underpass on 83 which would flood, but now an area in Villa Park floods which I do not think flooded before. Sorry, better for roads to flood for awhile than a neighborhood. Our state is broke thanks to people like Quinn, so I guess we will need to get funding from the federal government which is also broke, but they can print money. I am sorry but I think these trips by politicians is not much more than a political act, as someone will have to document the need. Makes it look like they are doing something, but how much of our tax dollars will they spend to make it look like they are doing something.
NancyC April 18, 2013 at 07:44 PM
Turn it off Gov. Quinn. We can take care of ourselves.
Jim Court April 18, 2013 at 08:01 PM
As usual, a day late and a dollar short. After the poltical "leaders " have bankrupt our statevand our nation it is crazy to look for them to straighten anything out. We need to elect non politicians way more often.
Chris April 18, 2013 at 08:04 PM
Expecting a lot of improvement over our current situation is a bit of wishful thinking. The flooding we are seeing today is the result of a HUGE rain event. Designing stormwater management systems with capacity sufficient to handle events like today is cost prohibitive, even when designing new systems. Its much worse when trying to retrofit or upgrade an existing system. Our system is already greatly improved since the Elmhurst Quarry Flood Control Facility was created. Unfortunately, when the streams we rely on to drain our storm water are topping their banks, the best sewer system in the world won't help. If you're looking for a realistic approach to reduce chances of your home flooding then install overhead sewers to prevent sanitary backflow, keep the storm inlets in your street clear of debris, install and maintain sump pumps in your basement with adequate capacity and have a backup (a generator is a good idea to run that backup pump when the power goes out), and hope the water doesn't get too high. Even then, if you live in a low area you will still probably get wet on a day like today. Sorry for the bad news. CivEng.
Joe O'Malley April 18, 2013 at 09:29 PM
...where's your "Christopher Burke Engineering" consultants now, Moses?!
Wash Woman April 19, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Well said. Mother Nature always wins. We tip the scales in her favor with the building ginormous houses on our small Elmhurst lots. Our desire for three car garages and sweeping driveways, huge patios and manicured yards gives the rain no place to go. Elmhurst never used to flood (other than Korvettes at St. Chas and 83) and the population was higher than it is today. What has changed? We have overbuilt the area with too much concrete. The Oakbrook Terrace Tower is a perfect example. We build right to the banks of Salt Creek and cry foul when Elmhurst floods. These type of rain events are becoming more frequent and more violent but we refuse to believe in climate change. We cannot do whatever we want without push back from nature.
Jim Court April 19, 2013 at 02:23 PM
It is obvious that are storm sewers cannot handle or lack the capacity to carry away the levels of water required. Some thoughts; 1) The underpass massively flooded. Is this because the drain gets obstructed? If so, a taller pipe drain that would not obstruct immediately and at a level where it could be accessed and cleaned when needed would be the solution. This underpass is are only means of connecting Elmhurst and trains often block other possibilities. 2) Flooding of low lying areas. Couldn't large capacity pumps be placed to transport water to other areas? 3) The electrical outages need to be fixed NOW. No more studies, no more meetings, no more talk. Find a solution and implement it. First it was smart meters and that fiasco. Bury the power lines, absorb the expense, think in terms of 100 years, and quit worrying about investor returns, I have two flooded basements where the storm sewers backed up. 4) Why are new homes continuing to dump their storm water directly into the storm drains and bypassing natural drainage and overloading the system. Perhaps if new homes are built in ways that prevent them from flooding, who cares about the neighbors? 5) Maybe I missed it but I was not aware that this level of rain was going to hit our area. if we can have robo calls for elections why didn't I get one for the storm? 6) Electronic signs could have communicated this information city wide. I want result to the best of our human ability. I do not sense that.
Jim Court April 19, 2013 at 02:33 PM
I keep the storm sewers clean but that is really the job of public works. Get the electric fixed. Bury the lines and force ComEd via a lawsuit,. We should be able to sue them. I am tired of the excuse that is an act of God. It is mother nature, the problems can be anticipated, solutions achieved, and problems solved. The dividends might not be so high though. Who cares. Does anybody want to join with me to put together a installed generator program that makes sure the proper equipment, installed properly, at the right price, and serviced properly can be achieved for every household? I am serious about this. This is preferable to a piecemeal and inconsistent approach currently taken. We will also be a complete advocate for the consumer and should any problem arise, it will be resolved.Reputation will demand this. Small contractors often do not care about losing one customer. My e-mail is idealist2@aol.com. Please copy and past this and forward it to anyone who might be interested. Imagine, every home in Elmhurst with an independent power supply. Next would be security systems and entry prevention. Jim Court
Ida Tarbell April 19, 2013 at 04:02 PM
Get real people. Neighbors need to keep the drains clean. Don't blame the city for this. It is the way of life here. Been dealing with it for 27 years, and will continue to do so. Keep two sumps in the pit, extra pump, squeegee, mop bleach, tile or cheap carpet in the basement. Appliances on elevated, open surface, such as cinder blocks. Deal with it or move to Arizona. I would rather deal with a flood than what Is goin on in Boston right now.
Jim Court April 19, 2013 at 07:10 PM
Ida, Either you are extremely tolerant and a pitbull or; A hillbilly. I should not have the expectation that my basement should flood or that power should go out at whim. I am not along a riverbank or even a low lying area. Boston, while tragic. is totally unrelated. Apparently you store nothing of value in your basement.
Tim Race April 19, 2013 at 09:29 PM
There is no excuse for Elmhurst not enforcing its own ordinances regarding illegal sump and french drain hookups to our sanitary sewers. When I owned a home in Champaign, IL the city went door-to-door conducting inspections to ensure that there were no illegal hookups to the sanitary sewer system. Every time I get sewer water in my basement I get mad - mad at the City for not enforcing its own rules and mad at the Elmhurst residents that haven't spent the money to upgrade their drain systems. This is a classic example of local government that does not work. It has cost me time and money over the years. Ruined furniture, carpet, irreplaceable keepsakes, not to mention black mold and nosebleeds. Why should I have to pay to install overhead plumbing in my basement? Tonight two of my sons are sleeping in the living room. Apparently I would need to hire an attorney to force the City to do its job! For the record I live in north Elmhurst and not the hard hit southwest neighborhoods.
Tim Race April 19, 2013 at 09:56 PM
Chris we do not have a combined sanitary-storm water system in Elmhurst. The sewer backup is inexcusable and is caused by illegal private storm water hookups to the sanitary sewer system. Why should I pay for overhead plumbing in my basement to prevent sewer backup (and subsequent damage) because of selfish neighbors that won't pay to correct their illegal hookups? Thanks City of Elmhurst for NOT enforcing the existing ordinance! I understand that street and yard flooding should be expected when you get a 500-year 24-hour rainfall - but the sanitary sewers should NEVER EVER flood residential basements. I have a sump pump in my basement and a portable auxiliary pump and a generator and now I should also pay for overhead plumbing? The heck with that! Chris I am not angry at you - just our City government. Chemist, PCS, Expert Witness
Dan April 19, 2013 at 10:55 PM
Is it possible that the illegal hook ups where both legal and common practice when the homes were built? It isn't likely that homeowners are going around town making illegal connections to the sewer system instead they purchased homes that were built according to the code at the time. In most towns around here it is illegal to hook the gutters and sump pumps to the storm water system something that is required here if you build new or add on. I can almost predict that one day we will be required to unhook these illegal connections that we currently are required to make.
Bender April 19, 2013 at 10:56 PM
I live in Ward 5 and when I bought my home 2 years ago the sump pump was hooked up directly to the sanitary sewer. I thought it was a mistake that the inspector ok'd it, and when I had him come back out after taking possession he still said it was ok. I've since disconnected it and run it out onto the lawn, but there's your problem in a nutshell. They can give all the lip service they want, but the city is inept enforcing its own rules.
Jim Court April 20, 2013 at 01:53 AM
my new book about Government in general. " Not much ado, about anything". Move over Shakespeare
Ercie Berwick April 20, 2013 at 05:29 PM
You're right, Jim. The governor came to Elmhurst to pose for pictures; that's all we're going to get--pictures in the local paper. Elmhurst will keep flooding until the whole town submerges under water and "we the people" are never seen or heard from again.
Ercie Berwick April 20, 2013 at 05:30 PM
I say get rid of all the politicians! "We the people" are better off without them! Bleh!
Ercie Berwick April 20, 2013 at 05:31 PM
People need to stop building and living in flood plains. Common sense is an issue here.
Tim Race April 20, 2013 at 08:00 PM
Dan - yes the old hookups were legally. Everyone was supposed to disconnect those old hookups . They are not legal anymore. My 90-year old house pumps the sump water onto my lawn. I guess new houses connect directly to the storm sewers. Kudos to Tanstaafl for making the required changes despite the bad advice from the home inspector.
Bender April 20, 2013 at 09:58 PM
It wasn't just a home inspector, it was the city plumbing inspector who knew it was illegal.
Dan April 20, 2013 at 10:07 PM
Tim, I attended a city meeting a year or so ago and my understanding is that a large amount of the storm water that enters the sanitary sewers is from older homes where the perimeter drain tile is connected to the sewer system. To change this or bring these homes up to current practice is incredible expensive . From what I understand the city doesn't require homes to go through the expense of making that type of change. Rerouting a sump pump is a different story. Sorry to hear your home took in sewage. That would be horrible.
Ercie Berwick April 20, 2013 at 11:30 PM
I have a good one by Shakespeare for ya when it comes to people building and living in a flood plain: It's from "A Midsummer Night's Dream." "What fools these mortals be!"
LizW April 21, 2013 at 03:59 AM
Dante - Will you please explain in greater detail why living in North Elmhurst prevents you from the overhead sewer reimbursement? I don't understand why living on the north side would prevent you access to this money. Please call your alderman and ask for help. http://www.elmhurst.org/index.aspx?nid=251


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