By the time the sound of rushing water jerked Jeff Giegoldt out of bed, the water was almost knee-high.
"We got about three feet in 15 minutes, and it just rose from there," said Giegoldt, whose bedroom is in the basement of his home on the 3900 block of North Pacific Avenue.
The Northwest Side Chicago resident said he was able to rescue his cat and his laptop, but everything else remains in the basement under about six feet of water. At one point the water rushed in so quickly, the basement screen doors snapped off their hinges.
"We knew the rain was coming, but you can't be prepared for six feet of water like that," Giegoldt said. "Everything I have is down there."
His story is similar to many residents experiencing flooding after Thursday's massive storm poured several inches of rain on northern Illinois.
David Bonilla, who lives a few doors down from Giegoldt, said he managed to grab just a few things before the water rose to dangerous levels nearly up to his chest. Most of Bonilla's belongings also are submerged under six feet of water.
"There's a bedroom off to the left, and off to the right is a living room set with a small dinette and kitchen set down there," Bonilla said. "Off to the back of the basement is a workout set. Basically everything is down there."
The next step is to wait for everything to dry out.
"Basically right now we're playing the waiting game," Bonilla said. "Just waiting for the water to go down so we can get down there and clean up and salvage what else we can get."
North of the Chicago, Lake County officials declared a state of emergency as some residents were forced to evacuate their flooded homes.
Gov. Pat Quinn activated a flood emergency response, and Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk said they are communicating with federal officials.