The picturesque South Shore community area sits right along Lake Michigan. The community is bordered by 67th and 79th streets to the north and south and by Stony Island Avenue and Lake Michigan to the east and west. In 1889, the South Shore community was annexed to Chicago as part of the Hyde Park Township. Today, South Shore’s community includes over 50,000 people in over 20,000 households and is home to the South Shore Country Club which stands tall today as a cultural center. Of the households, 90.7% are occupied. Of this, 65% are owner occupied, while 35% are renter-occupied.
Flooding in the Community?
Residents and business owners in South Shore experience several types of flooding. From 2007 to 2011, 2,305 flood-related insurance claims were filed in the 60617, 60619, 60637 and 60649 zipcodes, with more than $7,603,076 paid out in damages (CNT, 2014). In April 2013, heavy rains brought severe flooding to the South Shore community resulting in extensive basement flooding in South Shore and the City of Chicago. Figure 2. Shows that during the storm, residents across the community had water in their basement or could see water in the street.
Figure 1. Flood Damage Claims in South Shore from 2007-2011
Figure 2. South Shore 311 Flood Related Calls in 2013 by Block Club
How are Properties Affected?
Our analysis has found that residents and business owners in Chicago experience several types of flooding:
- Basement backup from the local sewer system and private lateral lines, impacting several parts of town.
- Street flooding from local drainage issues, causing pooling in the street.
- Foundation seepage, causing rot and mold in basement walls.
Four main factors contribute to flooding in South Shore:
- Increasing impervious surfaces: As open lands are converted into parking lots, streets, and rooftops, rainwater finds fewer places to sink into the ground.
- Aging sewer infrastructure: As sewer systems age, pipes may collapse or crack, causing local drainage issues.
- More severe storms: Climate change is bringing more frequent high-intensity storms to the region.
- Flat topography: Most stormwater is directed via gravity. Flat streets in the city create challenges for moving the water out of neighborhoods.
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.
South Shore Community Residents Want to Address Flooding
Some residents of the community have already taken steps to capture and store rainwater draining from roofs that would otherwise be diverted to the sewer system by installing rain barrels. Composed of a collection storage bin, vinyl hose and other installation materials, rain barrels are relatively simple and inexpensive ways to capture stormwater thereby decreasing the amount of water draining to the storm sewers which contribute to community flooding.
Photo Credit: Faith in Place, Raymont Bell
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.
 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. "36.6Community Data Snapshot:
South Shore - Page Two.": n. page. Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Chicago Metropolitan Agency for
Planning, June 2016. Web.