Monthly Archives: April 2013

Is Chicago doing its best to gear itself against storms and floods?

If you want to visit Bob Schleder in his home at Alsip in Chicago, you may bring in your boat or hip waders. Bob, who is a multiple sclerosis patient, is literally a prisoner at his own home, confined to a wheel chair. He can’t even cross the roadway to get to his mailbox. The insistent rains and flooding in Chicago in the past week have just added to his woes.

The street that is in front of Bob’s house always gets flooded whenever there is heavy rain and this week which experienced one of the heaviest downpours has made things difficult for him. There is no puddle here, but a 100 foot long pond that conceals the parkway, covers the entire road including the treacherous potholes. There are no sewers and drains in this area of Mather Avenue, which means the area remains flooded for days on end. Schleder said that the mosquito infested area, witnesses ducks flying in and making the stagnant water their home in such times.

Things were not the same when he had first moved into the house 21 years ago. But after new houses and driveways were constructed making the runoff go down the street and the area around his home became a reservoir for water to be collected. Bob had made numerous requests to the city mayor and the city administration but in vain. The last reply he has got is that the problem is not only an expensive one but it would also need an entire reconstruction of the street. One also has come to know that the solution is in the form of installing a sewer system on the Mather Avenue, which would require a funding of $500,000, something that Alsip does not have.
This is not just the plight of Bob Schleder, although his hardship cannot be overlooked. There are many who have been affected to a large measure from the Chicago floods that have been ravaging the area since June 9. Dozens of people have been rendered homeless. Whenever there is flooding, the casualty or even the destruction of property has a lot to do with city or town management and drainage facility. For Alsip, it has been no good. The fire chief in the area said that the top part of a three story building has been struck, resulting in fire. People at this point in time are relocating and the American Red Cross has been working with people to arrange for food and accommodation.

On a larger perspective, Chicago has been bracing for the floods that have already made their presence, ending the heat wave that had been at its severest point since 1933. There is going to be a public meeting in Chicago to decide how people will be able to cope with possible floods and tornadoes in the area, this Wednesday. The topics to be talked about will be about how information should be disseminated from emergency response agencies and weather experts and how people can prepare and co-ordinate during extreme weather. The Wednesday’s 2 hour free event begins at noon at the Chicago Cultural Center. The event will be sponsored by Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, the National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency officials and local television meteorologists. One wishes that the plight of Alsip is also given its due importance.

Flooding in Midwest: How You Can Stay Safe

The Midwest region in the US is prone to spring flooding as the snow-peaks begin to melt and come down in the form of rains that causes the rivers and streams to spill-over. The Midwest region comprises of twelve states: Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. This region has for the past three years, been incurring the wrath of floods especially in the area adjoining the Northern Mississippi rivers, during the months of March and April.

The National Weather Service had given the warning that people close to Northern Mississippi River as well as the other rivers in the Midwest region are likely to experience flooding. . This year the prediction was that the floods would extend from the northeastern Montana through west Wisconsin and from the Mississippi river to St.Louis.
The Federal Management Agency has stated that March and April has cited that North Dakota, Fargo, Moorhead and Minnesota have been always hit hard by Red River flooding, especially since the past two years. The agency has cited some things that people can take note of so that they are able to prepare themselves for floods and take appropriate precautions for safeguarding their life and property: They are mentioned as under:

1. Have a plan ready: Plan in advance about what you should do when there is flooding. For instance, your family may not be together, when a flood hits; so you should know how you could contact each other and reach in safe place, whenever there is an emergency situation. Keep a list of numbers that you can call for help when needed. Also, there is an emergency number that you can call through your cell phone, which can work without network. An out of town contact is better in such a situation so make arrangement to speak to a long distance friend or relative, you can reach out to. Also since your family members may be working at various places: offices, school, college, daycare etc; make sure that they are well-informed and refreshed about emergency measures to take in the wake of a natural disaster like flooding or storm.

2. Get an emergency kit ready: The emergency kit can be your lease of life, so to say, during flooding. It has been statistically proven that an emergency kit consisting of water, food, medicine, a battery-operated radio can keep you and your family going strong for three days Also carry sand to improve traction, snow shovels to remove snow and enough clothing and blankets to keep warm. Do not forget to take first-aid kit, local maps and cell phone with inverter or solar charger.

3. Protect your home and property: Get a thorough assessment about your home and how much of it is at risk during flooding. For a thousand square feet home with six inch flood, the total losses could be $20,150. It is good to check with a flood insurance agent about what would work best for you. Also please note that flood policies take 30 days to become effective, so make sure that you buy it right now so as to protect your property from an eventuality.

Ohio in Direct Line of Fire from Large Storm Moving Into Area

There is a massive storm system taking aim at a large portion of the Midwest and rain-weary residents in the northern portion of Ohio are fearing the worst. Earlier this week several counties in northeast Ohio suffered flood damage. In Findlay, which is 45 miles south of Toledo, the Blanchard River overflowed its banks earlier in the week putting much of the city under water. Many residents were forced to evacuate and some returned to their homes in canoes and boats this week to retrieve personal items.

The major storm that is headed to the area could bring three or more inches of rain with it, which could turn to snow and ice by the end of the weekend. Those residents whose homes have already suffered flood damage are being warned to check their well water before starting to use the water again. Health officials recommend that bottled water be used for cooking, drinking and brushing teeth. Flood water poses serious health risks such as exposure to diseases, drowning and many dangers associated with cleaning up flood water damaged homes and property.

Residents in the path of the storm can remove mud and leaves from storm drains or inlets in front of their homes and along curbs to prevent drains from becoming clogged. All contaminated items removed from flooded homes should be properly disposed of and the contaminated areas should be cleaned with diluted bleach water. It is important to wear protective clothing such as rubber gloves and boots when cleaning up after flood damage.

Spring flooding is always a concern at this time of year in the Midwest as rapid snow melt and heavy rain can cause flooding. The National Weather Services says that areas from southern Minnesota through the Ohio River and New England face the greatest risk for flooding this spring. While the flooding will be welcome news to Ohio water restoration companies, homeowners are not likely to welcome the significiant potential for heavy rains this year.

The storm heading into the Ohio Valley region could bring with it thunderstorms, tornadoes and hail. The rain could change to ice later in the weekend due to falling temperatures. Many residents in portions of Ohio have just begun to return to their flooded homes this week and now face having more water rushing in. Many communities in the area are setting up free sandbag pickup sites in their communities and are encouraging residents to keep an eye on the weather reports and to heed evacuation warnings coming from local officials.

Residents Living in Central Portions of U.S. Should Prepare for Significant Flooding

The National Weather Service’s central region director Lynn Maximuk recently said that her agency is expecting “significant flooding when the snow begins to melt” in areas along the northern Mississippi River. The service is also saying that other rivers in the region face good chances of flooding in the upcoming months as the deep snow begins to melt.

Those areas most likely to see flooding are along the Upper Mississippi River which includes parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. The Red River in North Dakota and Minnesota, the James River in South Dakota and Devils Lake in North Dakota are also at risk of flooding.

It is almost certain that major flooding will occur along the Red River. Both Minnesota and North Dakota residents are already busy at work filling sand bags. They are hoping that the sand will hold back what might become record-breaking crests. The National Weather Service has reported that it has seen no improvements in the conditions along the river from what they saw three weeks ago, which is not a good sign for nervous home and business owners in the area.

In 2009, the Red River reached a record-breaking crest of over 40 feet in Fargo and it swelled to over 50 feet in 1997 at Grand Forks. Right now, the National Weather Service is saying that there is a better than 50 percent chance that the crests will be over 50 feet in Grand Forks.

The weather service is also warning that no river in the state of Minnesota will be immune from flooding this spring. It is expected that flooding will close some of the main bridges connecting St. Paul with Minneapolis. Emergency management officials have told Minnesota residents to take out flood insurance if they live in a high risk area. The peak flood season is estimated to take place during the last two weeks of March leading into the first two weeks of April. The temperatures in the Upper Midwest have already reached the lower 50s in recent days, following one of the snowiest and coldest winters in many decades. Residents are already on edge in the region, hoping that somehow their area escapes what is shaping up to be the inevitable.

In Fargo, residents are expected to fill over three million sand bags. In nearby Moorhead, the sand bag duties have been out-sourced to help to safeguard the city from the ravages of flood waters.

Christmas Blizzard of 2010 Batters East Coast

Many people in the eastern portion of the US who were dreaming of a white Christmas got more than they had hoped for as a large snowstorm blanked several states with two feet of snow. The blizzard of 2010 will be remembered for a long time to come as it brought a large part of the United States to a virtual standstill.

Planes at some of the country’s largest airports were grounded as the storm wreaked its havoc. Wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour were unrelenting, making it impossible for airport runway workers to keep up. Road crews in numerous states also battled to no avail as the drifting snow made it impossible for them to do their work. Trains were canceled, subway lines froze and bus lines put the brakes on numerous routes.

New York City has not seen such a snowstorm in six decades. Children reveled in the snow while frustrated workers struggled to walk through snow that was waist-deep. By Monday night, the entire city was blanketed in snow as deep as 20 inches. Even as the snow stopped falling, the gusty winds threatened those people who were set to return to work after the holiday weekend. The normally way over-crowded 5th Ave. in Manhattan was all but deserted during Monday’s rush hour with very few vehicles on the streets. Instead, people were trying to walk to their destinations on snow covered streets because sidewalks had not yet been cleared. Very few city buses in NYC were running and the signature yellow taxicabs which normally line up, awaiting passengers were a rare sighting yesterday. Those who attempted to call limousine services found their calls unanswered.

Every subway line in New York was affected. People were seen all over the city standing on platforms waiting for long-overdue trains to arrive but no one knew for sure if the trains were running at all. By mid-day on Monday, only a couple of subway lines were keeping with their regular routes. Tourists in New York on holiday were delighted at the deep snow seen coating everything from store awnings to sculpture and statues. Even locals could not resist the temptation of snapping photograph after photograph of one of the largest snowstorms to hit their fair city in sixty years.

The National Weather Service has predicted improving weather conditions for the Northeast today, but the news is of little solace to the thousands of airline travelers who have been stranded since the holiday weekend. In some cases, many will have to wait several more days before getting the chance to go home.

Florida & North Carolina Property Owners Endeavor to Be Prepared for Natural Disasters

This month, some areas in Florida are beginning to experience heavy rains and thunderstorms. In Miami, locals are dealing with potential severe flooding conditions, while residents as far north as West Palm Beach brace for upwards of eight inches of rain today. . In select areas, motorists were trapped because of the water level and were rescued by firefighters and emergency teams. In an effort to ensure everyone’s safety, firefighters went door-to-door warning residents of the water level increase in creeks near their homes, and were advised to seek temporary shelter.

Although fortunate not to have experienced very severe conditions, Florida cities, towns, and counties are quite prone to storms. However hurricanes and tropical storms can be extremely dangerous and cause millions of dollars in property damage as a result.

In response to this, several organizations working hand-in-hand with FEMA have devised ways and techniques to counter and at least reduce the aftermaths of storms. They want to ensure that local residents and business operators are properly educated about hurricane risks and storm surge flooding. Everyone is advised to assess the risks in the area where their properties are situated, and are required to regularly inspect their property for potential problems that could arise when storms and other natural calamities strike.

In areas such as North Carolina that are frequently hit by storms, such as Cape Hatteras and Morehead City have strictly implemented pre and post disaster plans including the development of evacuation centers and shelters to take care of residents whose homes have been destroyed or severely damaged. The local communities are advised to always pay close attention to hurricane warnings by staying tuned to the radio, TV, and weather updates. To help reduce the extent of damage, the government agencies tasked to handle natural disaster mitigation have been:

1. Promoting land use planning
2. Elevating structures that are within the hazard zones
3. Encouraging homeowners and property owners to secure flood insurance
4. Enforcing effective building standards
5. Advising homeowners and property owners to secure hurricane straps in walls and foundations

The collaboration between government agencies and the local community has certainly gone a long way in helping to address the concerns of the people in the state to ensure their safety and prevent a disaster from becoming even worse.

In addition, homeowners and business owners also seek the help of professional disaster cleanup services when their properties get affected or even damaged due to the storms. There are companies that provide the following:

1. Property repair for water and storm damage
2. Mold remediation
3. Property restoration

These services are very important and in-demand when natural disasters strike, particularly during the hurricane season.

Thunderstorms Trigger Flooding in Parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin

Heavy showers and thunderstorms slammed portions of Minnesota and Wisconsin on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, forcing the evacuation of the small town of Arcadia and closing roadways in many areas. Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle declared a state of emergency in Trempealeau County and the National Guard was deployed to the area to assist in giving flood aide to officials there.

Nearly two-thirds of Arcadia’s 2,500 residents were told to evacuate their homes early Thursday morning. Some residents were rescued by boat as the Trempealeau River breached its banks. Every road leading to and from the town were shut down. A few dozen people went to stay in the American Red Cross shelter in the local National Guard armory. Another fifty were staying at the Holy Family Church.

While Trempealeau County got the worst of the flooding, fourteen other counties in the state of Wisconsin reported problems ranging from minor flooding to entire road washouts. There were also numerous railroad line closures and mudslides reported. In Eau Claire, an island of the Chippewa River broke free and slammed up against a bridge located near that city’s water main.

The torrential rains also caused widespread flooding in the southern portion of Minnesota. The Mississippi River which runs through the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul is expected to rise above flood stage during the next few days. Minnesota’s governor Tim Pawlenty already has declared a state of emergency for large portions of his state amid the heavy downpours which made many roads impassable. Utilities in some areas were shutting off the gas and electricity supplies to some homes that had standing water in the basements.

More than ten inches of rain fell in portions of western Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota. Forecasts call for a cold front to move into the area on Friday, bringing with it heavy rains, thunderstorms and high winds. Extended flood warnings have been issued for a total of thirteen counties in the two states thus far. The Wisconsin National Guard is hard at work distributing thousands of of sandbags to various cities, townships and municipalities. The weather is only going to worsen, making conditions hazardous and which may prompt more evacuation notices to be issued in both Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The amount of rain that has fallen has set numerous records in both states. Upwards of ten inches of rain fell in southern Minnesota over the past two days. Minneapolis has gotten over three inches of rain since Wednesday which exceeds the normal monthly rainfall amount of 2.69 inches. This flooding rainfall has occurred at the worst possible time for farmers as the fall harvest has barely begun. It is thought that soybean fields in low lying areas will not be able to withstand the standing water.

The dillema of waiting out a potential hurricane

If you live in the southern Gulf States or along the east coast of the United States, then one price you have to pay for the glorious weather is the threat of hurricanes. The vital thing is preparedness. You need to have a supply of plywood stored in your basement or in your yard, because when Anthea or Brendan is heading in your direction, you don’t want to be the last person at the lumber store looking for ply. Bottled water and canned food are something else that you should consider having in good supply as soon as peak hurricane season arrives (July thru November) comes in. It makes little difference whether you live in balmy Miami or the steamy, more humid Everglades when one of these storms marches in from the Atlantic, to the Caribbean Sea; your time to prepare is short.

The best plan is to have all of your plywood sheets, which normally come as eight by four feet sizes, cut to fit each of your windows. By labeling these, both by window identifier and the order from left to right, you will be able to secure you home in a much shorter time. This may not seem very important when you consider that hurricanes only travel at about 15 miles per hour, but they are notorious for taking unexpected paths, and this sudden veering can happen when you least expect it.

One thing you can do little about is storm surge. The best thing you can do, upon receiving a warning of a potential storm, is to move all of your electronics to a higher, second or third story room. It may be a good idea to move soft furnishings there also. If you do get hit by flooding, it will not only be water that is entering your home, there will be sewage and other debris coming your way.

Above all, the most important thing in your home is you and your family, and although there are people who organize ‘Hurricane Parties’, the smart money is on moving to safer ground. This may well be a good time to visit the cousins in Iowa. When it comes to claiming on your home insurance, it stands you in good stead if you have photographic evidence that demonstrates that you took preventative steps to secure and protect your house contents. Make certain that your household is not among the many that will be reported on the news as having suffered injury, or worse, death.

Cleanup Efforts Underway in Chicago Following Weekend Flooding

Illinois governor Pat Quinn has declared ten of the counties in his state disaster areas after heavy thunderstorms moved into the area and dumped heavy amounts of rain. Westchester and Cicero – two west Chicago suburbs were the hardest hit as was a Chicago highrise apartment complex along the Chicago River when approximately seven inches of rain quickly feel on the northern portion of Illinois Friday night into Saturday.

Quinn said that many of his state residents are reeling from the damage. He also stated that over 125,000 sand bags have been sent to folks in Henderson County. Illinois residents who were affected by the widespread flooding are being told that they can find an online flood cleanup guide online that was posted by the American Red Cross.

The severe storms that hit the Windy City over the weekend flooded streets, filled viaducts and sent rain seeping into tunnels across the city. In Westchester and Cicero, many homeowners reported waist deep water in their homes while others reported having up to ten feet of standing water to deal with. Westchester officials are holding a special meeting Tuesday (July 27) at 6 p.m. to declare an official state of emergency for the badly affected village. The Red Cross provided residents there with a dry place to sleep, rest and eat. There were flood damage assessment vans and trucks seen throughout many of the flood ravaged areas on Sunday, as residents are trying to come to grips with what has happened and to begin the cleanup process as quickly as possible.

The City of Chicago is thankful for their local chapter of the Red Cross as it is beginning to distribute clean-up kits which contain brooms, rubber gloves, mops as well as cleaning and disinfectant solutions at no cost to those in need. Officials in Westchester are warning its residents to be aware of scam artists that show up during times of disaster. People who may be posing as relief workers or repair companies could very well arrive on the scene and take advantage of vulnerable and tired residents. They also mentioned that no one should pay anyone up front and that any work promised to be done should be put in writing in the form of a formal contract. The topic is to be discussed at this evening’s meeting.

Chicagoland’s weather forecast is not all that promising following the recent storma as another line of thunderstorms may move into the area on Wednesday and then again over the coming weekend. Affected residents all across northern and central Illinois are being urged to take great caution when working in or near flood water as there are many hidden dangers that should be taken very seriously.

Every homeowner should have a sump pump to avoid basement flooding

There can be few greater miseries than having your home damaged by flood water. It ruins valued possessions and disrupts daily routine because it requires a major clean-up operation to restore normality and can also affect your health. Unless the area is completely dried out, mold and mildew set in and the clean-up operation becomes a full scale battle. Finding the source of the water and dealing with this properly is far preferable to simply trying to block its point of entry. At best that can only ever be a temporary solution.

However, identifying the source may not be as straightforward as it sounds. If the water enters shortly after heavy rainfall, you can consider yourself fortunate as this is likely to be relatively easy and inexpensive to cure, by redirecting the flow away from the foundations of the property. If water is much slower to appear, but still occurs within several days of heavy rainfall, the problem may be caused by pooling of water underground, or a swollen aquifer. This causes the ground to become saturated and pushes water through hairline cracks in the basement. This problem is rather more difficult to deal with, but still not a serious problem, providing you are prepared to call in the experts to excavate and reshape the landscape surrounding the house.

Should the water not be related to seasonal or weather changes, the problem could be more serious. It may be caused by a leak from the main water pipe, in which case its source needs to be identified with the help of the local water utility service. If it is caused by sloping ground around the property, some extensive digging may be required to direct the slope of the grade away from the foundations of the property. This will require the help of a professional landscaper or excavator to accomplish.

Installing a reliable sump pump is almost certainly going to be the first step whatever the source of the problem. This is a device that removes water which accumulates in the sump pit which is located in the basement. It will pump away excess water and help to prevent damp spreading throughout the foundations and seeping through to the rest of the house. Sump pumps are vital appliances in areas susceptible to water damage and can save householders from the untold misery and financial loss caused by flooded basements. They are essential and relatively inexpensive investments that no householder can afford to pass up.