A few dozen Forest Parkers turned out for a flood-prevention seminar at the Howard Mohr Community Center last Saturday and were joined by elected officials and business owners to discuss ways homeowners can mitigate home flooding – a contentious issue in recent years.

The seminar, organized by Mayor Anthony Calderone and Commissioner Tom Mannix, was put together in response to complaints from residents who have seen their homes flood during heavy rainfall, this season and in recent years.

Several local business owners and representatives gathered to talk about flood prevention, among them Rich Schauer of Schauer Hardware; Scott McAdam, owner of McAdam Landscaping; Amy and Dan Thiesse of Thiesse Plumbing; and Liz Axtell, who works for American Family Insurance.

Attendees listened as each discussed various things homeowners can do to deal with the threat of flooding: buy a backflow preventer, install porous pavement, and buy flood insurance, to name a few.

The presenters explained how the equipment and methods worked, how it could be installed, how to submit insurance claims, etc. By and large, the event was well received by most in attendance, judging by the audience’s interaction with the presenters, as well as with Calderone and the commissioners, Chris Harris, Mark Hosty and Mannix, who attended the event.

Leslie Johnson, who bought a home on the 1500 block of Marengo Street about a year ago, said the event was informative. But she likened the information to “the bike that you get on Christmas but don’t know how to put together.” In other words, the actual implementation of the suggested flood-prevention methods is a daunting challenge (i.e. putting together complicated equipment or correctly navigating the insurance claims process to get the necessary reimbursement for any damage done to one’s home.)

“The presenters might have been a bit more specific,” she said, but overall, “I think they did fine.”

Johnson’s home was flooded last year when record rainfall, measured between 6.5 and 7.9 inches pounded the village, and she doesn’t want to be hit again.

“I was pretty shocked with the rain,” she said.

Ron Proctor, a homeowner on the 900 block of Thomas Street, said he already purchased a backflow preventer – a device that helps prevent dirty water from entering homes –  but wanted more information on additional equipment. That’s why he came to the seminar.

After the presenters spoke, Calderone took the microphone and invited the audience to ask questions – and many did. Topics ranged from future grant money that could be available in the next year to homeowners with flood damage, additional explanations of some of the equipment, and a brief explanation of the village’s combined sewer system, which has capacity limitations, and is said to be the cause of much of the flooding that residents receive.

Calderone said only Forest Park businesses were recruited for the seminar. He reminded the audience, “The more money you spend on flood prevention, the higher level of protection you have for your assets.”

This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Rich Schauer’s name.