Jul 28, 2020

Chicago Properties Have Large Percentage of Flooding

A new analysis by the Brooklyn nonprofit First Street Foundation says that 13% of properties in Chicago are highly vulnerable to flooding

chicago flooding

A new model created by a group of academics and experts called the First Street Foundation, says the city of Chicago has the nation’s largest percentage of properties that are unexpectedly prone to flooding.

According to the New York Times, Chicago has 75,000 properties that are at risk of flooding. These properties don’t show up that way on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maps. Englewood in particular is vulnerable.

0.3% of Chicago properties are at risk of flooding, according to FEMA, but First Street says this number should be 12.8%. Residents can assess flood risk in their respective areas by going to the First Street website at floodfactor.com.

According to the First Street Foundation, the Lake Michigan shoreline also will be at risk if water levels keep rising.

“Urban flooding is a huge issue for Cook County,” said Kari K. Steele, president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. “Even with having the capacity to store over a billion gallons of water, we still have an issue with residents getting water in their basements.”

Another report by Pro Publica alleges that FEMA underestimates flood risk because insufficient funding means many FEMA maps showing flood-prone areas have not been updated for decades. According to the Center for Neighborhood Technology, most flooding now occurs outside FEMA’s official flood zones.

This summer, the MWRD is accepting applications from local municipalities and public agencies to partner in installing green infrastructure throughout Cook County.

According to the Sun-Times, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Friends of the Chicago River, the Cook County Forest Preserve District, the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission, the MWRD and other groups are creating a Chicago River Watershed Council to design ways to expand green infrastructure across the watershed and to expand and restore natural areas to help reduce flooding.

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