Crystal Lake flooding problem areas on rise

CRYSTAL LAKE – Katie Yoars has lived in the same house since she was a child.

And while she may have longed for a pool growing up in the 1980s, she was surprised to see one when she looked out of her window Wednesday. Yoars was one of many residents to experience flooding the likes of which they had never seen before when more than 3.5 inches of rain poured into Crystal Lake in less than an hour.

“My backyard looked more like a pond or a lake, and I have never seen that in all the time I’ve lived here,” she said. “I saw my potted plants floating around the yard.”

The small duplex near the intersection of Maple Street and Crystal Lake Avenue is just one of the problem areas the city must address every time there is heavy rainfall.

Victor Ramirez, director of public works for Crystal Lake, said there were a record number of road closures – with 40 streets either closed or detoured at the peak of flooding – and sewage backups with roughly 35 reports.

Had it not been for a 2009 stormwater study, the damage could have been worse, Ramirez said. The city was able to install a culvert crossing at North Shore Drive last fall to address its top flooding priority.

“There’s one success story in all this,” Ramirez said. “We do have other places we want to address, but some don’t have as much impact and are a priority in future consideration.”

With the city able to dedicate only so much to flood prevention efforts, neighborhoods such as Ken Dumovich’s likely will stay near the bottom of the priority list.

Dumovich, who lives on Edgebrook Drive off Golf Road, frequently experiences flooding when water seeps through the floor of his basement via the heavily saturated ground. He said the problem started after the city installed a pipe in a nearby creek to limit water, but it has been ineffective.

Because the flooding does not affect streets and is not deemed a life-safety issue, Dumovich said it is not a top priority.

“I’ve replaced two sump pumps this year, and my neighbors are constantly running theirs,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re just not a priority.”