Flood Fears Soaked in Climate Reality, Chatham Grapples with Downpour Aftermath as Chicago Feels the Heat

Flood Fears Soaked in Climate Reality, Chatham Grapples with Downpour Aftermath as Chicago Feels the HeatSource: Unsplash/Phillip Flores
Richard M. Sullivan
Published on November 27, 2023

Heavy rains and the flooding that follows have become the dreaded norm for neighborhoods like Chatham in Chicago, where the latest downpour left residents bracing for waterlogged basements and impassable streets. While climate change's tightening grip is felt globally, it's the local communities that bear the immediate and devastating brunt. Illinois has been particularly hard-hit, with the Chicago area suffering disproportionate climate calamities and its lower-income neighborhoods of color finding themselves on the front lines, according to a recent report by Chicago Tribune. 

As experts scramble to adapt to the increasingly erratic weather, known to some as "global weirding," researchers at Argonne National Laboratory are targeting Chicago's hardest-hit sectors, seeking solutions for areas like Chatham. They're spearheading a deluge defense, harnessing science and local know-how to stem the tide of climate calamity. "It rains everywhere in Chicago, but it floods in Chatham," lifelong resident and local leader Nedra Sims Fears stated on CBS.

Argonne's scientists are rolling out instruments and models tailored for their community, digging deep into the specific challenges that make Chatham a flooding flashpoint. "These kinds of events, they used to be an anomaly, not anymore," Science Director Dr. Rao Kotamarthi in accordance with CBS.

The Nature Conservancy, mapping the most beleaguered neighborhoods for interventions like green stormwater infrastructure and increased tree canopy, is doing its part to turn the tide. Still, there's a recognition that the work ahead is more a marathon than a sprint, demanding deep-rooted, community-led resilience-building as the flood-fearing residents of Chatham and beyond stare down the stormy barrel of climate uncertainty. As Michelle Carr from The Nature Conservancy put it in a statement obtained by the Chicago Tribune,