Reducing Flooding Vulnerability of Chicago Critical Facilities

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Sunday, 4 January 2015
Mary E. Woloszyn, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL; and A. Carne

When Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the eastern U.S. coast in October 2012, it proved that there is a need to assess the infrastructure of critical facilities across major U.S. cities. During Hurricane Sandy, a hospital in New York City endured major basement flooding, causing the backup generators located in the basement to fail and therefore leading to a hospital evacuation. It is known that the infrastructure of critical facilities (i.e. hospitals, power plants, schools, etc.) in major cities across America is outdated, which has led the project team at Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and the Midwestern Regional Climate Center to pursue the Reducing Flooding Vulnerability of Chicago Critical Facilities project, funded by the National Sea Grant Office. This poster presentation will focus on one component of the project, which is to analyze significant precipitation events in Cook County (which includes Chicago, Illinois) over the last 24 years and to tie specific impacts (i.e. impact metrics) felt within Cook County to these individual events. Impact metrics that were analyzed include Chicago River reversals (reversing the direction of the Chicago River into Lake Michigan), combined sewer overflows, basement flooding reports, flooded viaduct reports, and transportation disruptions. Impact metric data was gathered from various City of Chicago and Cook County departments, including Chicago Department of Water Management, Metropolitan Reclamation District, and the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communication (OEMC). For each flooding event, we surveyed the severity of the impacts and determined the locations within the City of Chicago that received the worst flooding and greatest impacts. Doing this has allowed us to determine specific wards within Chicago that are most vulnerable to flooding. Next steps of the project include working with the City of Chicago OEMC to identify critical facilities within these flood-prone wards, completing a flooding vulnerability assessment at each of these facilities, and making recommendations to the facilities on steps they could take to reduce their flooding vulnerability in the future.