GCI, CROCUS partner at Flood Relief Fair



This past June, as heavy rains descended on the Chicago-area, it was again the residents and business owners of Chatham who were ground zero for flooding. Streets and sidewalks turned into pools and neighborhoods became temporary waterways.

The flooding that continues to devastate the Chatham neighborhood is one of the more dire effects of climate change, and it is also only expected to increase in frequency and intensity. Research shows that as warming air and water temperatures throughout the Great Lakes region will lead to more frequent and longer lasting storms. Solutions and support are needed.  

This was the central message behind the Greater Chatham Initiative’s (GCI) first South Side Flood Prevention Fair. Held on Saturday, September 9, attendees had access to a wide variety of workshops, resources and presentations – one of which focused on the work of CROCUS.

Community Research on Climate and Urban Science (CROCUS) is a five-year, $25-million program led by a research team of 17 academic institutions and community organizations. Funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, CROCUS studies urban climate change and its impact on environmental justice communities in the Chicago region.

By collaborating with residents and community-based organizations like GCI, researchers are able to identify community challenges and study the interactions and impacts of climate on communities and communities on climate, which lead to issues like flooding. The data collected and scientific analysis will inform community planning and decisions to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change at the street, neighborhood, and regional levels.

In addition to the presentation from CROCUS, FEMA representatives were on site to assist homeowners, property owners, renters and auto owners who experienced flooding June 29-July 3 and wanted to file claims or follow up on claims.

There were also presentations about the history of Chatham community floods; flooding control systems; pros and cons of private and government flood insurance; designing a community digital flood app; insurance coverages; flood solutions; and trees and plants that combat climate change.

“Chatham sits at the heart of Chicago’s flooding problem. The city gets more calls about flooding in Chatham and surrounding areas of the South Side than anywhere else, with more than $50 million in damage claims paid out to residents just between years 2007-2011,” said Nedra Sims Fears, executive director of GCI. “Through our partnership with CROCUS, we will be able to bring technical solutions to our community that have lasting impact.”

During a recent Flood Fair, Chatham residents and business owners had a chance to learn about flood relief options, as well as hear from several experts including researchers and community partners from CROCUS. (photo submitted by Jeremy Jacobson, Greater Chatham Initiative)
Argonne’s Director of the Office of Community Engagement Robyn Wheeler-Grange (left) poses for a picture with Executive Director of The Greater Chatham Initiative (GCI) Nedra Sims Fears during a recent Flood Fair held by GCI. (Photo by Argonne National Laboratory)