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Flooding in Bellwood: What You Should Know

August 25, 2014
 After the recent flooding that again affected Bellwood as well as hundreds of residents in nearby towns and across the entire Chicagoland area, it is important to remember that the problem for Bellwood begins at Addison Creek.

While Bellwood Mayor Frank A. Pasquale for years has had an active, visible role in working with other towns and the state to address the ongoing problem, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago has been granted storm water management authority. The district is focusing on improving conditions along Addison Creek and implementing programs to assist homeowners with flooding issues.

Here are several important questions and answers from Hancock Engineering, which advises Bellwood on flooding and other important matters:

·       Why do some homes in Bellwood flood after moderate to severe rain?
There are three categories for flooding experienced by Bellwood homeowners: overland flooding, basement flooding and overbank flooding. Overland flooding occurs when flood waters enter your home as a result of storm water levels rising above the elevation of your home’s door or window opening(s). Basement flooding occurs when storm waters enter the sanitary sewer system and causes the system to exceed its capacity. Once this occurs, storm and sanitary waters retreat toward homes through sanitary sewer service lines that are connected to floor drains. Overbank flooding occurs when storm waters rise to an elevation higher than the creek’s bank elevation. This type of flooding will most likely impact people residing within defined flood plain areas.

·       What has been the greatest cause of overland flooding for Bellwood residents?
The inability of collected storm water to empty into Addison Creek due to the creek’s high water level during heavy storm events. Storm waters collected within Bellwood are carried toward and emptied into Addison Creek. However, during heavy rain events, Addison Creek’s water level often rises above the elevation of Bellwood’s storm sewer outlet pipes. As a result, storm waters backup onto local streets, yards and homes.

·      How can I prevent basement flooding?
Homeowners can install check valves on their sanitary sewer service line, which will prevent backflow from the sanitary sewer system. Contact your local plumbers (we recommend three quotes for comparison) to receive quotes on installing check valves. Homeowners can also purchase floor drain plugs (of the correct size, which is typically 4”) from the local hardware store.

·       What are flood plains? How can I find out if I am in a flood plain?
Residents seeking flood plain information can visit the Bellwood website (click Village Government) for a link to FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center

·       Do other suburbs experience the same problem, and if so, why?
Yes. Surrounding municipalities face flooding issues for similar reasons Bellwood experiences flooding. Melrose Park, North Lake, Westchester and Broadview experience overbank flooding because Addison Creek is within their corporate limits. Overland and basement flooding also occurs in those villages.

·       What is being done by Bellwood or any other agency to address this problem?
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago was granted storm water management authority for Cook County and they are focusing their efforts on improving conditions along Addison Creek as well as implementing programs to assist homeowners with flooding issues.  

·      What steps can I take to help prevent flooding?
Homeowners can protect against overland and overbank flooding by sand bagging doors or window openings. Build a barrier wall by stacking sandbags (and a durable plastic film) around any door and window openings. Sandbagging to a height of 3’ should be sufficient. Sand bags can be purchased at your local hardware store or nursery.

·      Where can I get help if my home floods again?
For more information, call Bellwood’s Office of Community Relations at (708) 547-3500 Ext. 1512. You can also visit FEMA’s website to learn or inquire about assistance they offer (www.DisasterAssistance.gov) or call 1-800-621-FEMA.

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