RainReady Pullman

RainReady helps people manage flooding in a time of climate change.

Situated 12 miles from the Chicago Loop and adjacent to Lake Calumet, the Pullman community includes the National Historic Landmark District including 531 homes built in the 1880s. Community housing consists of Queen Anne styled buildings featuring architect designer George Pullman,[1] row houses, bungalows, ranches, and executive homes with multiple floors and fireplaces. Pullman is bordered by 103rd St. on the north, 115th St. on the south, railroad tracks to the east, and Cottage Grove to the west. As of 2014, Pullman included a population of around of 7,000 and about 3,000 homes.[2]


Flooding in the Community

Today, Pullman experiences severe and repeated flooding. From 2007 to 2011, 1,603 flood-related insurance claims were filed in the 60619 and 60628 zipcodes, with more than $ 4,233,371 paid out in damages (CNT, 2014). In 2013 the City of Chicago was granted Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds after April brought a, “10 Year Storm.” The image below shows that during the April 2013 storm, residents across the community had water in their basement or could see water in the street.

Figure 1. Flood Damage Claims in Pullman from 2007-2011

The Long Term Recovery Committee (LTRC) found that homes in Pullman were in need of repairs and assistance for the following issues: extensive mold damage to basements and home (overwhelming issue);  structural damage to building foundation and underneath house floor, cracks, holes; buckling of ceiling/roof;  electrical problems from flooded outlets; damaged or destroyed furniture and appliances; repair of flooring, drywall, and baseboards;  plumbing and electrical issues;  home condemnation; broken plumbing, tuck pointing to prevent flooding; and, sump pump replacement (City of Chicago, Illinois CDBG-DR Action Plan)[3]. Unfortunately, Pullman was just one of 20 communities that had these issues and CDBG funds have been insufficient to meet the community’s needs.

Figure 2. Pullman 311 Flood Related Calls in 2013 by Block Group

How are Properties Affected?


Our analysis has found that residents and business owners in Chicago experience several types of flooding:

  1. Basement backup from the local sewer system and private lateral lines, impacting several parts of town.
  2. Street flooding from local drainage issues, causing pooling in the street.
  3. Foundation seepage, causing rot and mold in basement walls.

Four main factors contribute to flooding in Pullman:

  1. Increasing impervious surfaces: As open lands are converted into parking lots, streets, and rooftops, rainwater finds fewer places to sink into the ground.
  2. Aging sewer infrastructure: As sewer systems age, pipes may collapse or crack, causing local drainage issues.
  3. More severe storms: Climate change is bringing more frequent high-intensity storms to the region.
  4. Flat topography: Most stormwater is directed via gravity. Flat streets in the city create challenges for moving the water out of neighborhoods.

Reducing your Risks

RainReady is working with the communities of Avalon Park, Chatham, South Shore, Pullman, Calumet Park, and Washington Heights to better understand the impact of heavy rain on the communities in order to reduce or eliminate flooding. We need your help! By filling in our online survey, you can help us identify where the flooding and wet basements are occurring, so that we can better target support.

Protecting your Home

  • Assess Your Property: To reduce risk, you must understand the way water moves across your property. An engineer, plumber, electrician, or landscape designer can help, but often you can identify the cause of flooding by walking the property and taking photos during a storm.
  • Make Yard Improvements: Plant trees and native Plants to soak up the water in your yard and parkway. Regrade your yard and redirect gutter downspouts so that water drains away from your home.
  • Manage Water Within Your Home: Prepare your basement for water. Lift appliances off the floor, put valuables in plastic storage bins, and consider investing in a sump pump, backup generator, backwater valve, overhead sewer, or drain tiles.
  • Get Insured: Educate yourself about insurance policies and invest in the best policy for your needs. Most home insurance policies do not cover flood damage. You can purchase a sewer rider to cover basement backup, or look into the National Flood Insurance Program if you experience riverine flooding. No insurance covers damage from foundation seepage.
  • Expect and Prepare for Extreme Weather: If the experts predict rain, prepare your home. Clear your drainage areas, secure your windows and doors, and check your sump pump. If you experienced flooding, call your flood insurance company to file a claim. Even if you aren’t covered, note the date and time as well as the depth of the water document and photograph items that were damaged, including their estimated value.

[1] "The Town of Pullman." The Pullman State Historic Site :. The Pullman Museum, n.d. Web. 22 June 2016.

[2] Source: 2000 And 2010 Census, 2014 American Community Survey Five-Year Estimates., and *note That All CCA & Regional Medians Were Calculated Based On Grouped Frequency Distributions. "Community Data Snapshot: Calumet Heights." 36.6Community Data Snapshot: Pullman (2016): n. Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning: Community Snapshots. Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, June 2016. Web.

[3] CITY OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS CDBG-DR Action Plan (n.d.):. Web.