After the Flood: 3 Tips for Action in Your Community

Urban Flooding - Albany Park - Ryan WilsonAfter the weeks of wet weather we’ve just experienced in Chicago, we can’t help but empathize with the thousands of property owners whose soggy carpets have piled up and whose spirits remain dampened, here and in other parts of the country. For those who wonder if their basement flooding miseries will ever end, here are CNT’s top three tips for actions you and your community can take immediately.

  1. Document the evidence of flooding in your community. All too quickly, as the sun shines, people will forget about the magnitude of their problems. But you’ll need this information—on the costs of the damage and other impacts—as you and your neighbors advocate for solutions over the coming months.
  2. CNT is partnering with urban Illinois communities to gather information and photos of flooding impacts. If you get your village or municipality to circulate this survey link to property owners and they fill out the survey, we will compile and aggregate the information for your community free of charge (and anonymously), and provide it to you to share in your discussions. You can email us your photos directly.

  3. Find out if your community is protected. Two crucial programs, run by FEMA, are designed specifically to help homes and businesses just like yours.
  4. Our research in Cook County, IL, has found that while most (but not all) communities are benefiting from federally guaranteed insurance as part of the National Flood Insurance Program, far fewer are benefiting from the more comprehensive Community Rating System, which offers a suite of measures to guard against development that may aggravate your flooding problems, as well as discounted flood insurance. Our advice: get your community to participate NOW. (Don’t know if your community is participating? Email us.)

  5. Plan properly. A key reason that your basement is flooded is the high levels of impervious surfaces in your neighborhoods: roads, roofs, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, and patios are all contributing to your problems. Green infrastructure programs are designed to reduce run-off by absorbing this water. But having a few randomly located rain gardens or some permeable paving won’t solve the whole problem. Your community needs a comprehensive plan of action, with measurable targets, that’s tied into existing development work in the neighborhood. CNT has a specially designed process to help you. Contact us now, if you would like us to talk to your community about it.

Want to know more? Contact Harriet Festing, CNT’s Water Program Director.