Des Plaines, Ill. — There are only a handful of neighbors left on Big Bend Drive, near the banks of the Des Plaines River.
After major floods covered the neighborhood in 2008 and 2013, FEMA offered buyouts to homeowners. Many packed up and moved out, but Mike Ostrowski remains in the home he built 50 years ago.
“Every brick, every board in this place, we watched put together. It was a wonderful experience,” Ostrowski said.
But after days of rain and flash flooding, the river inched closer to his back door once again.
“Twice the river has come up over the banks and has flooded this entire street,” Ostrowski remembers. “I had it cleaned up and we stayed here. That’s how we’ve been existing, always with the possible threat of another flood.”
You can hardly tell homes used to stand on some grass-covered lots nearby. Still, new residents are moving into the area.
Mark Allen purchased a home at the end of the cul-de-sac two years ago, saying it’s a “beautiful area.” Like Ostrowski, they’re prepared for rising waters.
“We’ve got all kinds of mechanisms inside to watch, to keep it from coming into the basement,” Allen said.
After Saturday night’s additional rains, major flooding continues on the Des Plaines River at Gurnee, Lincolnshire and Des Plaines, and the Rock River at Algonquin.
Even though the river overflowed its banks yet again, Allen and Ostrowski say they were prepared and they’ll be ready the next time the river threatens them.
“I have two sump pumps in the basement that are going pretty much continuously. And they keep the basement dry,” Ostrowski said. “It’s our beautiful home and I don’t want to leave for any reason.”