Residents in one Libertyville neighborhood seek village help with flooding

The shared misery of waterlogged homes has united residents in one Libertyville neighborhood in seeking solutions.

A Facebook group has grown to about 115 members and is evolving into a community organization to set priorities regarding flooding issues in the neighborhood south of Route 176 and west of Garfield Avenue.

Committees are being formed to deal with various aspects of a long-standing issue in that area and hone questions for village officials regarding what has or can be done to help.

"We want to have a dialogue with them - we don't want to have people screaming," said Phyllis Dobbs, a Drake Street resident who created the group in response to flooding in many homes.

"If we come in angry and also ill-informed, it's not going to help us," she added.

Village officials have scheduled an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. Sept. 13 followed by a town hall meeting to discuss flooding issues, what residents can do to prevent damage and village projects that might help manage stormwater.

"We wanted to wait until people are back from school, back from vacation, and let people settle down emotionally," Mayor Terry Weppler said of the time lag between the July 12 flooding and its aftermath and the public session.

The area long has had stormwater issues and the village in 2014 commissioned a study to determine what might be done to alleviate problems.

The report by Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd. said the existing drainage system was built before modern stormwater practices and that frequent flooding occurred in part because the sewers were undersized and water storage is insufficient.

"Minor storm sewer improvements will not provide measurable relief," the study found. Two options to reduce flooding from so-called 10-year floods would cost $4.9 million; for 100-year storms it would cost $19.6 million.

Some residents question why village officials did not act on the findings. They also note that sewage inundated some homes as sanitary sewers backed up through floor drains, a situation that was not addressed in the Burke study.

"This is becoming an issue of health," said Rod Bare, who lives on the same block as Dobbs and had 5 inches of sewage in his basement. He said officials should consider a cost-sharing program for plumbing modifications in homes to alleviate that situation.

Village Administrator Chris Clark said stricter standards for new construction in the area were approved but 7 inches of rain in 12 hours could not be handled by a municipal drainage system.

The village authorized a comprehensive stormwater analysis that began in April and is expected to take 15 months to complete. An estimated 400 homes sustained flooding damage during the recent storms, according to the village.

"The storms have gotten worse. We're looking at something we can do to fix the entire village," Weppler said.

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  Kate Speer, front, and Katie DeAcentis, both of Libertyville, kayak down flooded Crane Boulevard at Nicholas-Dowden Park in Libertyville on July 12. Neighborhood residents have formed a group to address flooding issues. Joe Lewnard/
About 75 people attended a meeting relating to recent flooding in the area south of Route 176 and west of Garfield Avenue in Libertyville. Courtesy of Karen Bare
  A van navigates a flooded section of Burdick Street in Libertyville. Steve Lundy/
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