The sun shone and the murky, tree-shaded waters of Salt Creek were thankfully placid last Thursday morning as residents of a town home and condo association in Hinsdale celebrated news of a $2.57 million federal grant to protect it from flooding.
The setting looked quite different in April 2013 when residents of the Graue Mill neighborhood were evacuated by row boats because the creek, swollen with stormwater, had once again drenched some of their homes, ruining carpet, drywall and furnishings in the community that also flooded in 2010 and 1987.
Politicians and residents gathered to announce the grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that will go to pay much of the cost of the $3.4 million project. Another state grant will pay for $626,000 of the work. Residents, DuPage County and the Village of Hinsdale also are expected to kick in money for the storm-mitigation project.
"Today is one of, let's say, rejuvenation," said Peter Schroth, a Graue Mill Country Condominiums resident who spearheaded the effort to get the funding. "It will create a community that is safe to live in, even if we have extreme flood conditions, because we will be protected by mechanical means from any devastating flood."
The project at the community off York Road, just north of Ogden Avenue, will involve building berms, high-capacity drains and grading improvements.
"It will provide Graue Mill with formidable defenses against the next storm of the century, hopefully it will not occur in the next three years," said U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley.
That's because it is estimated it will take three years to complete the improvements.
"It's wonderful to have the money although it's taken four years to get it," said Janet Mose whose townhome has flooded three times."And it's going to take much longer to build it."
The emphasis last Thursday, however, was on celebrating the effort that was led by a small group of homeowners.
Quigley, who was joined at the podium by DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin, State Rep. Patti Bellock, and Forest Preserve District of DuPage County Commissioner Joe Cantore, praised the residents' efforts to enlist elected officials' support to protect their homes.
"They have taken upon themselves to pursue creative solutions to their flooding problems and have enlisted their elected officials in that goal," Quigley said.
The group launched their effort after 2010 flooding. They approached the Viillage of Hinsdale for financial support, and were turned down because the former village manager said the request came in at the last minute before a grant application was due.
Hinsdale Trustee Laura LaPlaca confirmed the village will make a financial contribution to the project, but does yet know how much it will be. She said a decision will be made in July after plans for the work are presented to the village. The village also will likely administer the grant.
The project also involves the forest preserve district, which donated land for the improvements.