Hale Street residents in Palatine continue waiting for solutions on flooding
Chris Bowman had lived on Hale Street in Palatine for about a month when his neighbor texted him to say it was raining hard and the street was filling with water.
Bowman was shopping at the time and didn't think much of the text or leaving his car parked on the street.
"I had no idea what he was talking about, so I ignored it," he said.
That was in August 2014. Bowman will never make the same mistake again.
"The street was so filled with water, it totaled my car. It was almost up to the door handles in water. The inside of the car was filled with water," he said.
"We've been smart since then."
Residents of Hale Street north of Colfax Street have asked the village over the years to address the routine flooding that has swept away mulch and trash cans, and infiltrated basements and garages.
They have stopped using mulch and move their cars off the street when heavy rains come. During downpours, they watch the water rise, hoping it won't cause damage.
The culprit is the elevation of the storm sewers in relation to the nearby creeks they drain, Village Manager Reid Ottesen said. The intersection of Colfax and Smith streets, four blocks west of Hale, has notoriously been plagued by flooding, and when it backs up, it affects the general area.
"The village has been working for several years to modify the Smith and Colfax intersection," Ottesen said. The project is estimated to be up to $7 million as it would redirect the stormwater to the Reimer Reservoir."
The village hired a contractor to conduct a study in 2019. The project requires approval from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and various federal agencies, all of which takes time, Ottesen said.
An "aggressive" schedule would include design work in 2022 and construction as early as 2023, he said.
The village, contrary to what some residents believe, does not control a valve to regulate the sewers, Ottesen added.
"There is no valve. There is no active management. This is all about gravity and the creek levels."
Resident Jim Capalbo, who recently moved to Hale Street, said he has it a bit easier because his house is on the elevated side of the street. His driveway floods, but the water has not gotten inside the garage since he's lived there.
But many of his neighbors have it a lot worse and are disgruntled, he said.
"I did know about the issue before I moved in," he said. "Friends warned me that the lower part of the driveway does flood."
Bowman said he called the village a couple of times asking for help but never got a call back. The last time was in June, when he left "a long voicemail" after the storm that saw a tornado strike Naperville and Woodridge.
Jon Jensen, the previous owner of Capalbo's house, said a village engineer responded to his request for help in June 2020.
"He did have a crew put a camera down the drain and check it. They did find an issue where the drain turns the corner and goes underground at the end of Hale and goes over to Plum Grove Road," Jensen said. "They found a partial blockage that I believe they repaired."
The engineer confirmed the village had studied the larger flooding issue and wanted to fix the problem but said it would take years, Jensen said.
"They were responsible as far as coming over to check," he said, "but whatever plan they are working on, it's not moving very fast."