Downtown Chicago Cleans Up After River Floods

A South Loop apartment complex and the Willis Tower remained empty Monday after weekend flooding forced residents to evacuate

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From power outages to clean up efforts, people who live along the Chicago River were forced to deal with the remnants of weekend flooding Monday.

"It was horrific," boat tenant Ed Hofflander said. “The water just started flowing over the walls. Just nonstop.”

The parking garage of the River City Apartments in the South Loop was still underwater Monday morning. The Chicago River overflowed its marina, which then filled up the entire parking garage on Wells Street.

Hofflander had been there all night.

“Almost lost my car, it was parked in there," he said. "Got it out just in time, but there’s probably about 20 to 30 other cars down there that are floating in the water, done. The water is all the way to the ceiling."

The Chicago Fire Department posted a picture on Twitter of a flooded Lower Wacker Drive as firefighters rescued people trapped by the rising waters.

The Loop was inundated by rainfall, and the river swelled, causing similar scenes at the Marina Towers.

The Riverwalk, which had been closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, was also underwater, forcing the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago to move fast.

“To mitigate the impact of the storm event, we have reversed the flow of the Chicago Area Waterway system to Lake Michigan at the Wilmette Pumping Station and at the Chicago River Controlling Works downtown to minimize overbank flooding,” officials said in a statement.

The district said the last time it had to reverse the flow was back in October of 2019.

Floodwaters crept onto a CTA bus Sunday, video on social media showed, as flooding inundated parts of the Chicago area.

The reason, they said, was that the river level was higher than Lake Michigan.

It was also a long night at the Willis Tower where ComEd officials said power went out at around 2 a.m. Monday.

Its crews could not get in to assess the damage because of the high amount of water on the third sublevel where the substation is located.

ComEd worked with building management to pump the water out.

Officials could not confirm how much water filled the bottom of Willis Tower. Power had still not been restored as of 4 p.m. Monday.

Residents, who are already stressed because of living in a quarantined environment, are just trying to be there for one another.

“It’s been a long night and it’s going to be a long day,” added Hofflander. "We're going to stick it out and help whoever we can and keep going."

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