CNT Rallies Chicago-area Flood Victims at “Gross Gathering”

Another deluge of rain wreaked havoc in the Chicago area last night. While some folks took to Facebook and Twitter to complain about the blaring of early-morning emergency alert messages on their smartphones, many residents woke to much more serious problems. Reports of flash floods and water backups began pouring in this morning, and early signs point to yet more property damage resulting from urban flooding.

CNT Water Program Director, Harriet Festing, addresses homeowners at the Gross Gathering, as representatives from MWRD, FEMA/IEMA, and Perma-Seal look on

CNT Water Program Director, Harriet Festing, addresses homeowners at the Gross Gathering, as representatives from MWRD, FEMA/IEMA, and Perma-Seal look on

CNT continues to stand in solidarity with flood victims, and plans to organize more Gross Gathering events that allow property owners to connect with each other, with municipal and state officials, and with organizations that can help mitigate flood damage.

The first Gross Gathering on June 13 drew approximately 100 people to CNT’s offices in Wicker Park. Homeowners shared stories with other flood victims on the “Soap Box,” met with contractors and officials, and discussed community-led solutions. David St. Pierre, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District; Tom LaPorte from the City of Chicago; Ron Davis from FEMA; and Sara Echols from the American Red Cross also addressed the gathering. Government agencies, nonprofits and private sector contractors were represented with trade stands and displays.

The Gross Gathering convenings are inspired by CNT’s ongoing work on the prevalence and cost of urban flooding, and on community-based approaches to solve the problem. Recent CNT research identified 177,000 property damage claims for wet basements across 96 percent of Cook County ZIP codes between 2007-2011. The equivalent of one in six properties in Cook County submitted private insurance or FEMA claims totaling $660 million in damage payouts.

In response to this increasingly widespread problem, CNT is piloting the nation’s first wet weather retrofit service for Cook County communities. Wetrofit®, as the service is known, is designed to reduce the cumulative impact of urban flooding from wet weather events by coordinating public and private investment in swift, low-cost, preventative solutions.

In the City of Chicago, CNT also manages the Chicago Sustainable Backyards Program, a City initiative that incorporates elements of green infrastructure to both beautify home landscapes and capture rainwater before it goes into municipal stormwater systems.

The next Gross Gatherings are planned for the south and northwest of Chicago, as well as the south suburbs.

Flooded? What can you do now?

  • Stay tuned for updates from CNT on policy updates and other solutions.