Community Member

Stop Elmhurst Flooding

Elmhurst, Illinois

Stop Elmhurst Flooding was founded in 2014 after a massive storm flooded over a thousand homes in Elmhurst, IL. The group works to spur the government into action to address dangerous flooding issues in their community. In 1987, a 100-year storm dumped over 9 inches of rain on Elmhurst and overflowed a nearby creek. The city and county governments responded with a flurry of flood control efforts – they built a quarry and a new reservoir system – and a period of drought followed. But then 2008 and 2009 brought more storms, and with them, more flooded streets. Stop Elmhurst Flooding’s activism on behalf of their neighbors has reaped results: since 2015, the city has spent $40 million to complete a dozen stormwater projects and buy out homes and parts of two church properties to make room for stormwater storage, and 450 homes now have more flooding protection, particularly from 100-year storms such as those more than a decade ago.

Flood victims participated in the Elmhurst parade to raise awareness of the problems

After a 2010 storm flooded 1,000 homes, one of the residents, Kathy Sullivan, joined a citizens’ task force but was dissatisfied with the city’s progress. After the 2014 flood, Sullivan and neighbor Tracy Fleischer wrote a petition to the city, park district, and school district. They filed it online and collected 613 signatures. At that point, there were funds and a plan, but the school and park districts had to be convinced to allow some property to be used for water storage. Sullivan and Fleischer created the Elmhurst Flooding Facebook page to give concerned residents somewhere to get information and make suggestions. The page had 2,000 followers at last count, proving its value. Four years of lobbying and meeting attendance later, Sullivan was pleased with the progress already made by 2018. Flooding of 30 homes and businesses in 2018, 2019, and 2020 point to room for improvement, but the success of Stop Elmhurst Flooding shows that community action can achieve practical solutions.

When Kathy Sullivan’s home flooded yet again, she went to city hall and used an unusual approach to get her message across.

For more information:

Flooding closes streets, causes some houses to take on water – Chicago Tribune, May 2019

‘Four Times in 10 Years’: Elmhurst Residents Outline Their Continued Flooding Frustrations – Patch, May 2013

A2 Staff

A2 Staff

This profile was compiled by a dedicated team of staff members who conducted interviews and gathered information from various outlets, including news articles, social media, and other sources.

Contact

Kathy Sullivan

Social Media

Climate Impacts

Flooding

Strategies

Community Farm/Gardens, Community Organizing and Education, Elevation or Relocation of Homes, Green Infrastructure, Nature-Based Solutions, Political activism, including protests, petitions, and lobbying, Risk mapping and/or monitoring e.g. flooding/contaminants etc

501c3 Tax Deductible

No

Accepting Donations

No