2 Rogers Park beaches closed for good after record rainfall, higher lake levels

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CHICAGO — Two Chicago beaches have been closed for good due in part to the heavy rainfall from this weekend’s storm.

The two beaches, Rogers and Howard, have seen higher lake levels and record rainfall with strong storms such as the one this past weekend. The area has had two of the top five wettest years in Chicago history since record taking began. The year 2019 was the third wettest on record and 2018 was the fifth wettest. When there is that much water in the area, it needs somewhere to go, therefore causing the higher lake levels. The National Weather Service says even if the city were to have a dry year, it can still take two or three years before the lake levels go down.

One resident in Rogers Park said she can’t believe the amount of damage the waves create in a short amount of time. Junway Beach was the first one to go in the neighborhood after sink holes began forming close to condo buildings.

Video and photos from over the years show how much damage has been done in the area. Waves pushed over several concrete barriers at Howard Beach last weekend.

Ald. Maria Hadden, 49th Ward, is working to change the erosion ride so to speak. Late last year, the city, along with state and federal partners, took emergency measures to protect a battered Rogers Park shoreline by putting in giant rocks to break up the waves

“What’s going forward, the park district has been taking lead on that coming up with plans working with Army Corps of Engineers with what’s next. What does it look like when we want to rebuild our shoreline?” Hadden said.

The alderman said while the threat to Chicago's shoreline is immediate, the funding to save and protect isn't.

“Unfortunately the type off funding that we need to build out these projects a lot of it will require either long-term planning or emergency funds and sometimes with emergency funds, emergencies have to happen first,” Hadden said.

People in Rogers Park said that emergency has already happened or shortly will happen. The alderman said it could be three to five years before that funding is secured.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Park District has implemented an indefinite swim ban at Juneway Terrace and Fargo beaches in Rogers Park. A newly erected chain-link fence around Rogers Park Beach has occasionally been padlocked, barring entry when tall waves are stirred by strong winds.

Residents say the generally bustling lakefront there has become lonely as its greatest attraction — the beaches — have greatly diminished or disappeared.

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