Flooding In Chicago

Hurricanes, tornados, droughts, blizzards — it seems like there have been so many severe weather events in the news in recent times. And every time there was rough weather going on in some distant part of the country, I’d find myself thinking, “it’s only a matter of time before something hits Chicago.”

Starting last night, severe weather came to Chicago in the form of heavy rains and widespread flooding. I was a bit slow to catch on — I woke up this morning and got showered and dressed like usual, without looking outside or turning on the news. And then we got a call from Lillian’s daycare saying they were flooded and had to close. (“Well snausages,” Joe said.)

We called my mom to see if she could watch Lillian for the day, and that was when I heard about the highway closures. It seemed like pretty much all of them had some kind of flood-related disruption except for the one I take to work — which could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on whether one prefers to be a good employee or a hookie-playing slacker. This was the scene out front as I was leaving in the morning:

Flooded Lawn, Chicago 2013

The ground was so saturated that water was just standing on the lawn, but as the (slightly blurry) photo above shows, the streets themselves were good and drained. And happily, our basement didn’t flood — we had some seepage down there, just enough to get the floor wet, but it had already mostly drained by the time I went down to take a look this morning.

Surprisingly, though, we did have some water come in in an unexpected location — in the dining room of all places. Nothing severe, but you can see the evidence that a bit of water trickled all the way down the wall:

Water Leaking Down Wall

Upon investigation it didn’t seem like there was anything major going on in the attic, but this is definitely something we’ll want to look into further — based on the location, we think it might be related to where the chimney attaches to the roof.

All in all though, considering that this is the worst flooding our city has had in years, and the governor has declared a state of emergency, and the guys on the radio called it “almost biblical,” it was a huge relief that we got off so easy, with just some minor dampness in a few places.

Just to give an idea what was going on elsewhere in the city, though, I wanted to share a few things I found while browsing the Chicago section of Reddit this evening. For instance, a view of the Kennedy expressway into downtown flooded so badly as to be almost impassible:

Image from here.

Image from here.

Or this view of a guy paddling some kind of canoe right by Harlem Irving Plaza, a mall where we sometimes do some of our shopping:

Image from here.

Image from here.

Or perhaps craziest of all, this massive sinkhole that opened up on the south side and swallowed three cars (the white one on the right eventually falls in, as this video shows):

Image from here.

Image from here.

So that’s the scoop on the most severe weather-related thing that’s happened around here in quite a while, even if we (luckily) weren’t really in the thick of it.

What about you guys? Any severe storms rolling through your area lately? Any midwest folks feeling the effects of this flooding situation? Feel free to share in the comments.


  1. I’m really glad you all are okay. I was at the gym yesterday morning and saw all that flooding in Chicago. I got very worried! Thank goodness you only got a little water in the house. Love you all!!

    • I can definitely see how it would be worrying to see this stuff on the news, especially considering how bad some of it got. We were very lucky, but I feel terrible for those who had their homes or cars or businesses damaged by the flooding. Thanks for thinking of us, and lots of love to everyone down there in Florida.

  2. It’s good to know your house stood up to all that! I think the scariest is the sinkhole. Hope there were no injuries. Take care!

    • Definitely agree about the scariness of the sinkhole. From what I’ve read, two of the cars were parked at the time they were swallowed, and while the other one drove in, it sounds like the driver got away with only minor injuries. I can’t even imagine driving along and suddenly having the road missing out from under you, though — I think I would be terrified to ever drive again.

  3. I suspect some of the drama is caused by media (and many ordinary folks) wanting to “one-up” the previous story, and then folks who get ONLY the most sensational pix (but near instantly these days) worry it’s “all over Chicago”. Long before Ivan hit this area, AOL IM was pretty much IT for chat programs (text only too), and we had a storm that was sort of bad, for P’cola Beach, but mostly, the phonelines in got overcrowded and so AOL set up a hurricane chat room, and I glanced in and people were having fits, because “I can’t contact my sister, I hear the island is GONE.” Well of course, it’s still there, and so is Chicago! Glad y’all didn’t get any of the serious flooding though, mom can tell you, it isn’t fun.

    • You make a good point about the sensationalism in the media — I think there’s definitely a tendency to seek out the most shocking, most dramatic stories and pictures in order to drive ratings and page views, both when it comes to these weather events as well as crime and other things. Worrying about the island being gone seems like a pretty extreme over-the-top reaction, and a good reminder not to jump straight to panic and worst-case-scenarios in the absence of more thorough information. I’m definitely glad we didn’t get any serious flooding, though, and can only imagine how very not-fun it must be to find oneself in that situation.

  4. While we all know how the media sensationalizes things, it doesn’t hurt to just do a little extra checking to make sure your loved ones are okay. This family is not my blood family, but I love them as much as if they were, so I did worry a bit. Ivan was actually a pretty bad storm, and the damage was widespread over the city of Pensacola. It looked like blue roof city!! People in Chicago may not be used to that kind of weather, so I just wanted to make sure Joe, Sarah, and Lillian didn’t get too much damage. Thank God all is well! :)

    • I don’t think it’s unreasonable to check up on loved ones when something big like this is going on in their neck of the woods, and even though we were lucky to not be in one of the flooded areas, I can definitely see how there would be cause for concern with so many homes and neighborhoods getting flooded. And it’s true that this isn’t really something we’re used to — this storm set all kinds of records when it comes to rainfall and high river levels for our area, though I can imagine Florida residents taking a storm like this in stride when you have to deal with actual hurricanes! Especially hurricanes as bad as Ivan was.

  5. I am so glad to hear you guys got through it safe and sound and with property intact. Yay for sturdily made bungalows!!!!

    • Thanks so much Hillary, I’m glad we made it through with all property intact as well. There’s definitely something to be said for sturdy little brick bungalows, and this incident has given me a very high opinion of our basement’s construction!

  6. Yeah, I ramble sometimes and don’t make the point I meant to make! I know some people had sinkholes and that Chicago storm was pretty bad for them. I certainly don’t think it’s foolish to check up on folks! What I SHOULD have said was that my FB newsfeed was clogged full of speculation over the Boston bombers’ motivations and government involvement, and NO mention of the weather in Chicago until Julie posted. So I was exasperated with media (and some of my “friends” on FB – time to thin the lists, it seems) priorities, and was comparing your blogging what happened in Chicago (and THANK YOU, btw) to my chatting in that AOL room years ago. And thank you, Julie, for letting me know to go looking for info in the first place!

  7. Hi, sorry to crash this comment board. I just bought a house in Chicago in need of rewiring. I read your posts about your electrician and wondered if you would mind passing me his info. I am trying to preserve the walls. Any help would be greatly appreciated and I’m glad to hear that everyone was okay with the rain.

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