On her wedding day, all of the groomsmen in Brooke Walper's wedding brought water pumps.
After a flood that dropped 6.61 inches of rain from 11 p.m. to 10 a.m., according to Cook County measurements, Winnetka homes saw floodwater creep as high as nine feet, ruining photo albums, furniture and one 26-year-old woman's wedding ceremony.
Walper was one of more than a dozen Winnetka residents, still recovering from the July 23 flood, who voiced their frustrations at the village council meeting on Tuesday night.
After an hour of public comments, the village council followed with a vote to approve $50,000 for a floodwater improvement proposal.
“At about 2:30 in the morning, my father, my very-soon-to-be husband, a bridesmade and her mother were helping us figure out what in the world we were going to do,” said Brooke Walper, who trudged through eight inches of water that day in her bungalow on Willow Road.
According to a storm report released by the village, “The pump station at Ash Street and Hibbard Road failed at some point during the storm" and did not sufficiently drain water until six more portable pumps were installed. The afternoon following the storm, that single underground pump was back on track, operating at full capacity.*
With those facts in mind, Walper suggested that the village discuss nothing but drainage options for the rest of the meeting, located at the . Her father George Walper, who lived in Winnetka much of his life, echoed her suggestion.
“When I pay my tax bills twice a year, I don't study which [taxes] are going to Cook County, which are going to Duke Childs Field—I look at you all and say, fix this water pump,” George Walper said. “No one will buy a house in this town right now. I think our goal, here, as a village, is to act on one opportunity, which is to fix this problem.”
Board Members' Reaction
Many board members recalled walking through Winnetka streets to survey the damage, which Trustee E. Gene Greable called a “war-zone” and “holy hell” for residents.
“First, [the village must] own up to the facts,” Greable said, “that we have storm water and sanitary water, infrastructure needs that must be addressed now, tonight, next week, [in] one month.”
Greable added that a significant amount of money, including up to 6 million dollars in village reserves, should be allocated for additional floodwater prevention in Winnetka.
The board later approved unanimously, though Trustee Jennifer Spinney was absent, $50,000 for a new floodwater-prevention proposal to encompass much of Winnetka, which Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd., said they'll have drawn up in two months.
For more further coverage of the Tuesday village meeting, check back with Patch on Thursday.
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*Aug. 3 4:30 p.m. Correction: We clarified the day that the sump pump started to work.