Center for Neighborhood Technology Review - Helping Chicago Communities

In cooperation with CNT (Center for Neighborhood Technology) Chicago Splash Magazines will be sharing information on environmental concerns that we believe can be helpful to our readers.  Watch for these articles from time to time and we, at Chicago Splash Magazine, hope you and your home can benefit from the work CNT is doing. By looking at the links scattered below, you will learn what communities are doing to improve and protect their properties and find specific suggestions about what you can do to improve and protect your own property.



Residents brainstorming at a RainReady Chatham community meeting

Funders Help Build Neighborhood Resilience Against Urban Flooding and Climate Change

Chatham, a neighborhood on Chicago’s southwest side, has a proud history of being one of Chicago’s most enduring black middle class neighborhoods. As with most of the country, however, the spectre of the recession is still looming, and Chatham’s residents have been working hard to bring in new economic development opportunities.


Chatham residents gather to hear CNT’s analysis of flood risks within the community


One of the biggest obstacles to attracting new businesses and residents lies deep beneath Chatham’s streets. The aging sewers running through Chatham are often filled past capacity during rainstorms, backing up and inundating the neighborhood. It doesn’t help that Chatham lies at a low elevation in an otherwise largely flat city.

CNT’s RainReady Community team has been working for months to help Chatham dry up its flooding problems. We’ve just completed the first phase of this work, an analysis of the scope and cost of flooding in Chatham. Our findings have been sobering:


  • From 2007-2011, Chatham’s two ZIP codes received more than $50 million in flood damage payouts. Indeed,Chatham’s ZIP code, 60619, had the highest number of payouts and the highest total dollar amount of payouts in all of Cook County, even though there are no floodplains in the community.
  • In our survey of flood victims, 40% said that they have flooded more than ten times since moving into their homes. 53% had had more than $10,000 in damage, and 25% had more than $20,000 in damage.


 Read more

 Read about Chatham’s flooding challenges- phase one report



Chatham residents mark up maps to show where flooding is occurring

Along with completing the analysis, they have put together a RainReady Chatham Steering Committee and started working on the neighborhood’s RainReady Plan. We’re engaging residents at every step of the process, empowering them to help shape the development of their neighborhoods. This kind of community engagement is especially critical for flood prevention, since there are no reliable predictive models and it’s up to residents to self-report when, where, and how much they’re flooding.


Permeable paving such as this can allow stormwater run-off to soak into the ground, reducing flooding


As we craft the final plan, we’re particularly interested in neighborhood solutions. Since flooding in affects multiple properties in Chatham’s neighborhoods, collaborative approaches between property owners could be particularly affective. Solutions range from downspout disconnection and drywells to parkway rain gardens and tree planting, with priority on ones that synergize with existing transit and development plans to boost economic development and quality of life. Thanks to our generous funders (listed in our Chatham report), CNT will be continuing its work in Chatham in 2016 to help plan and implement these solutions.

You can learn more about this work in the RainReady Chatham Phase One Report or on the RainReady website


Lori Burns standing outside her RainReady home in Chatham, celebrating no more flooding!

Rain ready blog has great suggestions

- See more about flood prevention


Simple solutions such as downspout disconnections, can reduce incidences of sewer backups

Please follow Harriet at CNT on Twitter

You are very important:

Your Story Can Put Urban Flooding on the Agenda

Pueschel Schneier noticed water coming up through the floorboards of her home in Pensacola, Fla. Within a couple of hours, the water was five feet high. It turned out that the wall of her neighborhood’s elevated retention pond – located 10 blocksaway– had collapsed, sending 40 million gallons of water down her street.


“Over the years, they have paved the roads, built the interstate, and built multiple parking lots,” Pueschel says. “All this impervious design prohibits the absorption of runoff into the ground, so there is nowhere for the water to go. Since I bought my house in 1997, there have been three large parking lots paved within two blocks of my house.”


We’re grateful to Pueschel, along with many other homeowners across the country, for completing CNT’s short urban flooding survey to share her story. Help us get stories like hers by forwarding this email to your friends and colleagues. The stories are being used to get political support for a bill being considered in Congress right now that will help reduce property damage: the Urban Flooding Awareness Act.


NOTE: Congress is currently considering legislation, the Urban Flooding Awareness Act<>, aimed at reducing damage to properties caused by sewer backups and flooding caused by severe weather. CNT/RainReady is promoting the legislation and is collecting stories from affected home and business owners in cities across the U.S. Sharing the story can be done at this link<>, and will take 5 minutes. Personal stories are critical to our success so we welcome your help promoting it.

Photos: Courtesy of CNT

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