First reported 6/24/2010 2:57 p.m.

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Sunday’s early morning thunderstorms flooded basements and viaducts on the South Side of Chicago, but were “a relative non-event” for emergency workers in Forest Park, says Fire Chief Steve Glinke. And after two weeks of scrambling to clean up in the wake of heavy rains and high winds, this was a welcome break for village crews.

Last Wednesday’s triple-punch storm in a week of severe weather darkened the southeast section of Forest Park for almost 10 hours. Residences north of Washington also lost power then, but not for as long, according to Glinke.

“This was a wrath-of-God storm,” Glinke said of what hit the late afternoon and evening of June 23. “We don’t frequently get one-and-a-half inches in 15 minutes. I know that’s no comfort to the people who got flooded to hear that. The truth is this was a significant weather event in Chicago.”

Residents south of Roosevelt Road between Circle and Harlem had no power to pump out their flooded basements – some of which were swamped in several feet of water. North of Roosevelt Road, the brand-new sewer line on Harvard was overwhelmed as Circle, Thomas and Marengo were almost knee-deep in water.

That storm caught people still reeling from the afternoon and early evening storms of the preceding Friday, which had knocked out power on Madison Street and the whole north side of town. In the two storms that hammered through from the west on June 18, winds that reached 75 mph snapped some trees just above the roots and others halfway up the trunk.

“At least half a dozen whole trees were destroyed,” Glinke said of the losses that Friday, which were along the southernmost lengths of Circle and Marengo.

Patty Marino, a resident of the 1300 block of Marengo, knows firsthand about one of those trees falling.

Marino, who works on Madison Street at Shanahan’s restaurant, got word that Friday afternoon, just after her shift started, of a parkway ash tree crashing through the roof of her home. When the restaurant lost power, she rushed home and found her porch crushed, a tree in her upstairs front bedroom, and walls and windows broken. Public Works crews, firefighters and neighbors helped pull the tree out with a crane. Marino’s high school-age daughter was huddling in the basement with a friend. “Thank God they weren’t in the living room,” Marino says.

The following Wednesday’s intense rainfall added insult to the Marino family’s injuries.

“It was raining in my living room through the hole in the roof,” Marino told the Review on Thursday morning. “We had it tarped, but the water was extreme and a tarp can only do so much. We used Rubbermaid totes to catch the water, but our floor is already destroyed from last week.”

Still, during and after this storm, she was able to take her turn in helping neighbors. Marino was two blocks away, where her sister was dealing with a sewage-filling basement, when at 6:30 p.m. June 23 matters got even worse.

“We heard a loud noise outside and then all the power was out. We knew when we heard that sound that power probably wouldn’t be coming back soon,” Marino said.

Power was restored at 4:55 a.m. Thursday morning, June 24.

Her neighbors in the newly built Cherryfield homes at 14th Street suffered severe water damage because their underground garages filled with several feet of water – swamping vehicles as well as finished basements, water heaters and electrical systems, according to Marino.

The fire chief says no trees fell during the June 23 storm.

Thursday morning, residents rushed to empty their soggy basements in time for morning trash collection.

“We’re going to live a life of squalor for a while,” says Marino.


Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...