Signs throughout the Dundees are halfway covered in snow, evidence of the brutal winter - and the potential for flooding when that snow melts. | Erin Sauder for Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 20, 2014 6:27AM
West Dundee Public Works Director Richard Babica said the possibility of warmer weather causing sudden snowmelt floods is “a genuine concern and an important concern.”
Since last week, the village’s public works department has been preparing for that risk by digging out catch basins along the Fox River. Residents can take their own precautions by making sure their downspouts are uncovered, Babica said.
“Right now, they’re under about 3 feet of snow — so they’ll need to scooped out to make sure they’ll drain,” he said.
Another recommendation is to shovel back the snow that has accumulated about 3 feet away from the house to prevent saturation of the foundation.
“Most important if you have a basement is to check the sump pump and make sure it’s in operation,” Babica said.
Some East Dundee residents are worried that the heavier-than-normal snowfall and spring rains could make for disastrous consequences.
As new residents to East Dundee who live in a flood zone, Paul and Lorice Amlin are very concerned about the possibility of flooding.
“We don’t have a benchmark for how much the flooding could impact our home and how to protect things like our washer and dryer and furnace,” Paul Amlin said.
Since they moved to their Barrington Avenue home last August, they have not dealt with any major flooding issues.
“Just some small seepage from cracks,” Amlin said. “But we moved in just after the basement had flooded last year.”
Recently, they have been busy trying to prepare for a sudden thaw.
“We are moving things up off the floor and considering blocking the floor drains,” Amlin said. “Also, looking into getting a submersible pump, clearing snow away from the foundation of the house, (and) checking downspouts and paths for water to flow away from the house.”
East Dundee resident Paula Lauer said she and her neighbors on Wenholz Avenue are plagued with flooding and sewer backups.
“I live in fear and dread every spring — and with all this snow, I’m doubly, triply fearful,” she said.
During last spring’s flooding, Lauer said, many residents had groundwater coming in, despite sump pumps running.
“Hydrostatic pressure was so high, it just comes up through the floor in any crack. It doesn’t happen every year, but I had a little pond in my basement for a couple weeks that I had to pump out regularly — but I’ll take groundwater over raw sewage any time,” she said.
Lauer said there isn’t much residents can do to prepare for possible flooding “other than making sure nothing is on the floor and having pumps ready.”
“As soon as things start to thaw, I’ll be moving stuff to the far corners, rolling up rugs and testing my floor pumps,” she said.
After dealing with two flooding events at her home, Lauer opted to gut her basement.
“I had all my floor drains plugged and got rid of the bathroom in my basement, so now my basement is pretty much unfinished,” she said. “But I still need to protect the boiler and other appliances that are down there.”
East Dundee resident Jackie Randle, who lives on Michigan Avenue, said she has not had any major flooding issues at her home but did get some seepage from water runoff a few years ago when there were some problems with the storm drains.
“Insurance doesn’t cover seepage, so our only preparation is mops and the shop vac,” she said. “I’m hoping for a slow thaw.”
Babica does, too.
“Hopefully, we’ll get a nice warm-up that’s gradual,” he said.