Jul 13, 2023 - News

Tornadoes and heavy rain deluge the Chicago area

A storm cloud comes in over Chicago.

Clouds pass through the Chicago area during a tornado warning. Photo: Carrie Shepherd/Axios

Multiple tornadoes touched down in the Chicago area last night, causing extensive damage to buildings, power outages, transit delays and evacuations.

What happened: The National Weather Service confirmed tornadoes near O'Hare Airport and multiple suburbs, including Campton Hills, Countryside, Hodgkins and Huntley. In Chicago, the threat caused the city to sound the rarely used tornado sirens.

  • Passengers at both O'Hare and Midway airport were forced to seek shelter, while spectators at the Chicago Fire match evacuated the stands.
  • Hundreds of flights were canceled or delayed out of both airports and thousands of Chicagoans lost power. No injuries have been reported.

Why it matters: The rapid moving storms added more rain to the region as both the state of Illinois and Cook County are rushing to mop up damage from flash flooding in recent weeks, particularly on the West Side.

Catch up fast: Gov. JB Pritzker declared a state of emergency this week in several counties, including Cook, to free up aid for residents still dealing with damage from July 2 flash floods.

  • Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle also declared a state of emergency, noting particular damage in Cicero, Berwyn and Stickney.
  • Her office said it has already received 3,400 reports of home damage from the floods.

What they're saying: Dozens of angry residents showed up at a Cicero town meeting Tuesday demanding infrastructure changes and government help with flood damage to their homes.

  • State Rep. LaShawn Ford said this week that one in four houses in Austin were affected by flooding, ABC7 reports. Some residents are questioning the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District's efforts to prevent severe flooding downtown.

Cicero officials accused MWRD last week of exacerbating flooding in the near western suburb by waiting too long to open drainage channels during the storms.

  • MWRD officials claim the timing was necessary to prevent flooding the Riverwalk and avoid "bringing the lake into the river system."

What to know: Chicago residents should call 311 to report flooding in their homes, an Illinois Emergency Management Agency spokesperson tells Axios.

  • Community groups like the Westside Health Authority are helping connect residents with aid programs and coordinating volunteer cleanups, Block Club reports.
  • Meanwhile, Cicero residents whose homes were damaged can fill out flood reports online to seek financial assistance.

Be smart: Water officials say citizens can help mitigate flooding by conserving waters during "overflow action days." That can mean delaying showers and the use of washing machines and dishwashers until the sewer system has a chance to catch up.


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