For many south and southwest suburban residents, particularly those with basements, the date of April 18, 2013, brings back a flood of bad memories. With some communities seeing 4 or 5 inches of rain that day and extensive flooding, it was to be a watershed moment in the life of Helen Lekavich and a group of Midlothian residents, who formed the “Floodlothian Five” in the storm’s wake. Their efforts battling for flood relief in their community have paid off, with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District getting underway with a $7.6 million project on flood-prone Natalie Creek in Midlothian and neighboring Oak Forest.
Thanks to the group’s efforts and working with the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Midlothian, in 2016, became the country’s first RainReady community. CNT has since worked with other south suburbs to develop plans to become “more resilient to too much rain” by employing cost-effective solutions, such a permeable surfaces for parking lots and designing soccer fields to do double duty as stormwater detention basins. Lower-cost ways of handling heavy rainfall events are needed as the frequency of such storms increases due to climate change.