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Floods challenge Downers Grove community

Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 8:39 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 11:48 a.m. CDT
(Jerry Moore —
Heavy rains overnight caused severe flooding in Downers Grove on Thursday. A car is stranded in standing water near the intersection of Park Street and Ogden Avenue.
(Bill Ackerman – )
Two cars are stranded in the middle of 7th Street and Cumnor Road in Downers Grove, while a third is being towed out in the background. Flooded streets are the norm on Thursday.
(Jerry Moore —
Heavy rains overnight caused severe flooding in Downers Grove on Thursday. The water is encroaching on the driveway of ManorCare Health Services in Westmont.
(Submitted photo)
The water encroaches on a residential structure Thursday in Downers Grove.
(Submitted photo)
Several vehicles are stranded Thursday in standing water on Rogers Street in Downers Grove.
(Jerry Moore —
Heavy rains overnight caused severe flooding in Downers Grove on Thursday. The water is encroaching in front of O'Reilly's Auto Parts at Park Street an Ogden Avenue.
(Jerry Moore —
A car on Park Street just north of Ogden Avenue in Downers Grove is stranded in standing water Thursday morning. The car appears vacant – but the wipers are still working.

DOWNERS GROVE – The Downers Grove community is continuing the clean-up effort this week following Thursday's big storm that flooded roadways, closed schools and sent DuPage County into a state of emergency.

Rain began pouring heavily last Wednesday evening, and by early Thursday morning, basements were flooding and many roads were impassable throughout much of Downers Grove.

Resident Andy McDonald said he is shopping for a new car this week after his vehicle became submerged near Douglas Road and Rogers Street. He ran into standing water after leaving the house at 4:30 a.m., he said, before roadblocks or other warnings were in place.

"It was pitch-black out, and I made a left-hand turn right into (standing water)," he said. "I didn't even see it. There weren't any signs or anything. It went up to my waist in water.

"It was kind of scary, when I tried to get out (the door) wouldn't open because of the water pressure. So I literally kicked my way out of the door."

McDonald waded to dry ground until his wife Gina could pick him up. When the couple went back to the car with a tow truck, two more cars were stranded like theirs, they said. But by then signs were in place. More than a dozen streets closed due to flooding beginning Thursday, though Downers Grove did not see the numerous home evacuations that some other nearby suburbs did, such as Lisle.

The Downers Grove Fire Department only received one such call Thursday, Fire Chief Jim Jackson said. It assisted a family from their home on Jacqueline Drive, and took them to higher ground where they were picked up by either friends or family.

"In respect to the response, I couldn't be more pleased with the first responders and the public works crews in dealing with all the different demands that arose very quickly," Mayor Martin Tully said Monday. Tully pointed to several storm water infrastructure improvements constructed over recent years as part of the village's Watershed Improvement Plan that helped mitigate some of the flooding, including water retention areas in village parks.

"There's no question there's still things on the list to be done," he said. "And we're working through them every construction season."

Public works crews will continue restoring the storm sewers this week, according to the village. Street sweepers have also been removing debris from roads as the water recedes, and standing water could remain in certain areas for some time.

On the morning of the flood, Downers Grove Police Lt. Mike Willison said flooding had been worse, in general, on the north side of town than on the south.

The large number of impassable roads caused School Districts 58 and 99 to close on Thursday, along with most park district facilities and programs. All county government buildings and facilities also closed that day, with the exception of the sheriff's department and other emergency-related departments.

Downers Grove is also offering residents a special trash pickup of storm-related debris this week, ending Friday.

For the special pick-up, residents must put refuse on the curb on their regular pickup day. Republic crews will follow their normal routes. Yard waste will not be collected this week to allow crews to concentrate on hauling away what is anticipated to be an increased amount of refuse due to the storms.

Normal amounts of weekly household waste must have stickers or contained in a refuse cart. Only storm-related household debris may be put to the curb with no stickers required.

For more information on the special refuse pick-up, visit

To report home flooding issues, send emails to or call 630-434-5460.

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