Albany Park residents returned to their homes yesterday after fleeing Chicago River flooding caused by record rain fall this past weekend.
More than 340 residents were affected by the flooding and many were evacuated to local shelters as gas and electricity to the area were shutoff, says Jennifer Martinez, director of media for Chicago’s department of Emergency Management and Communication.
Martinez said it was unclear how many families heeded the city's call to flee the area. She says the amount of flood damage has yet to be determined, and she's urging residents to dial 311 to report their losses.
Residents of the neighborhood experienced different degrees of flooding.
Yesterday, Kimberly Celis, who lives at Central Park Avenue and Argyle Street, says the few inches of water that collected in her basement only ruined the carpet.
Many of her neighbors were not so lucky, she says.
“They didn’t even have time to grab the clothes or shoes or anything,” Celis said of one her neighbors from down the street. She says the family of six lost all their new school clothes and supplies to the flood.
“It just started pouring up from the floor and they had to evacuate,” she says.
Although the river banks are less than a block from her home, Celis says she has never experienced flooding in the 12 years she’s lived there. However, neighbors living closer to the river been asking the city to build a retaining wall for the river for many years, she says.
"It’s a chain link fence that blocks off the river. What’s that going to do?” Celis said.
Alderman Margaret Laurino, D-39, whose district includes Albany Park, could not be reached for comment on the matter.
The city is warning residents about possible health risks in the food damaged homes. Susan Gerber, chief medical officer for the city department of public health, says that flood waters can contain bacteria and disease.
“The biggest thing we are concerned about is water contaminated with sewage and dirt coming into contact with people,” Gerber says. “Handwashing is very important, as is keeping people with open wounds, compromised immune systems and children away from flood waters and damage.”
Residents should not enter a basement with standing water and any items that came in contact with flood waters should be washed with hot, soapy water, she says.
More information on flood clean-up safety can be found on the Department of Public Health Website at www.cityofchicago.org.