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updated: 9/7/2011 12:48 AM

Arlington Hts. village hall overflows with flood stories

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At least 515 Arlington Heights residents have reported flooding problems in or near their homes on July 23, Scott Shirley, director of Public Works said Monday, and he expects more calls to come in.

Village trustees and staff members told residents who showed up for the third consecutive board meeting that they would continue to study the causes of flooding and try to come up with solutions.

While the residents calling the public works department to report water problems during the record July 23 rain came from all over the village, the most dense areas of calls and problems observed by department employees were in areas from about Oakton Road south to Central Road, according to maps produced by the village.

In the meantime, the board voted to waive permit fees for residents repairing flood damage, which could cost the village a maximum of $85,615 assuming that everyone who does work obtains a permit.

The board also approved paying Groot Industries $124,072 for collecting damaged materials residents put out after the flood. That brings the direct costs to the village from the flood to more than $173,000.

Public Works employees were paid $39,000 in overtime, Shirley said. There was also some overtime paid for police officers and firefighters, said Village Manager Bill Dixon. He did not have the figures available Monday night but thought those payments amounted to less than the public works total.

The city also hired SERVPRO of Arlington Heights at a cost of just over $10,000 to disinfect and clean the Metropolis lobby and the basement of the fire department's headquarters station on Arlington Heights Road. Those were the only village-owned buildings that were damaged, said Shirley.

Dixon said village staff can gather information about the flooding but might need to hire engineers to help analyze it before decisions can be made on flood prevention. Flood control projects will be discussed as part of the budget process this fall, he said.

While there were several reasons for different types of flooding around the village, preventing sanitary sewage backup in homes should be a high priority, agreed several trustees.

While village officials insist installing overhead sewers in older homes would prevent sanitary sewer back up in 90 percent of the cases, only 17 residents have taken advantage of a program instituted in 2007 where the village pays up to $5,000 toward the installation. Several homeowners are considering the project now.

Shirley said installing the overhead sewers can be expensive if the basement is finished because of the demolition required.

Residents said that the Deep Tunnel system is not working, and the stormwater and sanitary systems should be separated.

Others complained of rainwater flooding, saying there might not be enough drains into the sewer system, and the grates are not kept clean, requiring residents to risk danger during storms to clear them.

Denise Whitefield said when Burr Oak Drive in the Northgate subdivision fills with water, cars driving on the street push water into homes. The street was so flooded July 23 that a car floated up on a neighbor's yard, she said.

Whitefield asked that police prevent cars from driving down the street during heavy rains, but Trustee Joe Farwell suggested signs warning of a water hazard and urging slow traffic.