Rosemary Wormley was returning home after dropping her kids off at camp this morning, attempting to drive through a flooded street just blocks from her Winnetka home, when her car would go no farther.
"In a community like this, with the taxes we pay, this shouldn't happen," said Wormley, watching her car lifted onto a tow truck.
Typically one of these hardest hit areas in Winnetka after a flood, portions of the village's "tree streets" — Cherry, Oak, Ash — were again under water and closed this morning. Residents like Wormley were frustrated at the increasing frequence of such storms and the lack of an immediate solution.
Though North Shore communities encountered flooded streets after the morning's deluge, there was little in the way of reported structural flooding or damage, officials said.
Willow Road, east of Hibbard Road, was also closed, but Sheridan Road and the Winnetka Avenue underpass remained open, said Steve Saunders, Winnetka's public works director. In total, the village saw "lots of minor to moderate street flooding," he said, but not the structural flooding that so prevalent after the April 18 storm.
In Wilmette, about 2.5 inches of rainfall was recorded at the village stormwater pumping station at 6 a.m., said Village Manager Tim Frenzer. Village staff reported about 10 calls related to street flooding, he said, with high water reported on 10th Street near Elmwood Avenue, and on Wilmette Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets. By noon, all streets were open and clear.
There were no reported road closures or power outages in Highland Park, officials said. But in Deerfield, there was "significant street flooding" along North Avenue, Overland Trail and state highway 43, which is down to one lane in both directions.
Back on Cherry Street in Winnetka, Wormley said she and her husband, Paul, had been following the village's discussions for a $41.1 million stormwater project. Though some smaller pieces of that plan are already moving forward, the $34.5 million Willow Road tunnel – which would divert stormwater east into Lake Michigan and provide relief to the most residents – is still at least four years away.
The flooding is beginning to affect Winnetka's allure to potential homebuyers, Wormley said.
Ron White, who has lived at the corner of Cherry Street and Berkeley Avenue since 1945, said the flooding issues were aggravated when the Carleton Washburne School expanded a few years ago. He favored the plan to divert stormwater into Lake Michigan because of its unlimited capacity.
"We can let gravity be our friend," said White, a retired engineer.
Down the street, neighbors John King and Marie Albrecht said the flooded streets were becoming all too common. Both said they've lost substantial money in ruined possessions, basement damage and lost time from work over the past few years. Every time it rains hard, they also lose sleep.
"I was up at 4:30 this morning to see what was going on," said King, who works at the TD Ameritrade investment firm.
Alan Veenstra waded through flooded sidewalks with bare feet, snapping photos of his new neighborhood. He and his wife, Sally, just moved into a house on Berkeley Avenue a few weeks ago. He knew it was a flood plain, but it didn't deter him from moving in from Chicago.
"I wouldn't live my life based on rare occurrences," said Veenstra, who owns a sailing company in the Belmont Harbor.
Veenstra said he knew little about Winnetka's plan for stormwater protection, but ventured forth some tentative support.
"Who wouldn't be right now?" he said.
John P. Huston contributed to this report.