Cleanup begins after storms thrash shores of Lake Michigan, cause flooding

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CHICAGO — Some Rogers Park residents are cleaning up and drying out Sunday after storms caused flooding across the lakefront this weekend.

Huge waves continue to pound the shores of Lake Michigan after the first major winter storm of the season caused damage and flooding that even stranded vehicles near the lakefront Saturday. Now many Chicagoans are dealing with the aftermath.

“I've lived here 31 years; [it's the] worst I've ever seen,” Ron Dulin said. “The water just keeps on coming up and up and up.”

Walter and Norma Richard have lived blocks from the lake's shores for 40 years. They've seen a lot over that time, but nothing like the waves that Norma said were 15' to 20' high Saturday.

The couple has worked hard to save the beaches and beautify the walkways in the area, but said nature has brought its own changes to the lakefront over the years. Norma said a beach that was once beautiful in the summer is now just "a mess."

Lake Michigan has been rising since 2013, and the higher surf is worsening erosion problems in some areas.  Many beaches in Rogers Park are blocked off with construction fencing, which will remain until the spring.

Some homes were even flooded during the storms. For those residents, step one is clean up. Step two is plan for the next round of storms.

“We took a lot of sand a lot of water in our boat rooms but we were able to keep it from getting into the rest of the building, which was key,” Fred Mortom said. “We’re pumping the whole thing out now, and we’ll see what the damage is when the water’s all cleared."

While nobody was seriously hurt, all the property damage has residents grateful for 3,000 tons of rocks the placed along the lakeshore just in time.

“Two weeks ago they dumped all those stone on the shore and it completely saved the beaches there,” Walter Richard said.

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