The Great Chicago Flood of 2008

While much of the world watches the Olympic games in China – and most of the rest watch the conflict between Georgia and Russia – folks in the midwestern U.S. city of Chicago are watching the skies. Why? Because a colossal screwup by a city contractor had disabled the sewer pumps for most of the city’s south side – meaning as little as a half-inch of rain this week could lead to tens of thousands of homes being flooded.

According to the City, some houses are already flooding, and it’s only expected to get worse, as there’s a chance of rain Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.

There aren’t a lot of details emerging from traditional media sources, but Chicago Police officers (warning: crass humor, occasional naughty words) have some interesting goods – (they’re the ones who broke the story, late last week). Evidently, a failed pump at the pumping station was removed for repair, and the contractor did a half-arsed job of sealing the inlet pipe; when it rained, the seal failed, and the pump station flooded to a depth of fourteen feet, disabling all the pumps. Also, it seems, they (the police officers) have had their leave canceled, and are being encouraged to acquire rubber, firefighter-style “turnout” boots, so they’re better prepared to maintain law and order when a sizable chunk of the city is underwater.

This could be a seriously big disaster – some are already comparing it to the Great Chicago Fire. I’m sure that once the Olympics end – so long as no more rich white people get killed, anyway – it’ll become big national news.

I have to wonder about the advice the City provided in the news article, linked above. Covering gutteboxes to keep water out of the sewers? That’s not going to do a damned bit of good; the storm sewers are so interconnected, that you’d have to do that quite literally everywhere in the city to have any effect – and even then, the principal effect is going to be standing water flooding the streets, which isn’t really going to help anything. Sorry; covering the two, three, or twenty gutterboxes nearest your home isn’t going to keep your basement from flooding. I also question just how clear city officials are on the distinction between “storm” and “sanitary” sewers; perhaps in Chicago they’re not as segregated as they are here in Saint Paul…

(Incidentally, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, or FOP, are having a poll for the re-design of the city’s patrol cars, and anyone, anywhere, can vote. You know you want to…)

Published in: Geekiness, General | on August 11th, 2008| Comments Off on The Great Chicago Flood of 2008

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