Floods Bring Tragedy Beyond any Tragedies

By: Ray Hanania

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsFires usually destroy a home. Floods savage entire neighborhoods and destroy far more lives. This past week we witnessed a series of floods that hit communities from Orland Park to Des Plaines. The floods had much to do with the heavy, record rains — 9 inches in July alone, a new record, they said.

Who’s responsible for floods? It’s the question everyone asks because most people do not protect themselves against flooding. One reason is that once a region floods, it floods repeatedly. So you can purchase flood insurance, but then that quickly increases to unreachable insurance premium costs.

Is there an answer to the flooding?

Homeowners need to do a better job of preparing for floods. No one believes it will hit them until they are standing there dazed, looking at the havoc a flood created out of their home. And once it has happened, it’s too late and you live in fear every time it rains. Basic things you can do: don’t use wood chips to decorate your lawn or garden. During rains, the wood chips float and then dam up, blocking water flow causing flooding. Clean and rake your lawn. Most floods get worse because of debris that accumulates on a property and then creates a dam that blocks water flow and causes the floods to rise more quickly.

Make sure your rain pipes are clear. Put extensions on the downspouts to direct water away from your property to the street. Many people have under ground plastic tunnels dug to direct water to the front of their homes or “downhill” away from their property. It’s inexpensive and worth it. Check the sewer caps on your street. Make sure they are not covered. Debris is the worst enemy during rains for homes. Don’t let it accumulate.

The number one thing you can do, though, is to vote out of office every board member of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. This is one of the most useful government agencies we have. Their number one priority is to manage rainwater run-off and they don’t do a very good job. But they sure know how to spend money on themselves, paying for lavish lunches and dinners at the taxpayer expense. And they are the first ones to duck and dodge public responsibility.

Call them when it floods in your neighborhood and what’s their response: “The sewer systems in your community are deteriorating and causing the floods.” That’s an outright lie, of course. The dynamics of physics directly applies to water. Flooding caused by a broken sewer will impact a street or a block or more. The real problem is that water settles and has no municipal boundaries. It drains in a network through many neighborhoods and communities. The MWRD-GC manages the so-called Deep Tunnel. But too often, the Deep Tunnel fills up with water too quickly and the rain water has no place to go. Rather than tell you that, and then assume the blame, the MWRD-GC would prefer to lie and blame it on the local communities because, well, the Water Reclamation District officials think you are stupid. Their excuse sounds more plausible than the real reason that the Reclamation District isn’t doing its job because they know that most people don’t even know what the Reclamation District does.

Until you take the time to find out, and to put pressure on the District’s lame officials, flooding will continue to hammer your homes and properties every time it rains because the water has no place to go, good sewers or not.

Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and media consultant. He can be reached at www.hanania.com

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