Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Weekend Storms Wreak Havoc on River City

The weather has been pretty crazy over the last couple of weeks, but the storms on Friday were really intense. In case you missed this story, the Chicago River flooded the River City condo complex at Polk and Wells:
At least 700 tenants at the River City condos were evacuated as a precaution after the basement parking garage flooded, said the alderman for the 2nd Ward.
River water seeped into the garage about 3 a.m.,said Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd).

The flooding caused the generator that runs electricity throughout the building to shut down, said Valerie Gervais, who owns a condo in the building.
Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said that in terms of flooding, the River City complex is the worst situation being with in the city.
"We don't have any other building that have been flooded to this degree," Langford said.
Another reader sent us some pictures and a quick write up:
I'm sure you'll get lots of updates on this since it is big news, but here's my take. River City was evacuated Saturday the 24th due to flooding in the ground levels (basement and parking garage - I was told up to 12 feet at one point). The water took out the electrical systems in the basement, so the building is without power or water and for "safety reasons" the city evacuated the building.

We've been told it could be as many as five days before the power is back on and we can return. Anyone without a place to go was bussed to a shelter. We were told all the hotel rooms in the city had been booked on Saturday so that was not an option (I have no idea who determined that). By 4:00pm on Saturday the fire department was going unit by unit to evacuate the people and any pets they found. By 2:00am we were told it was finished. I've attached a couple pictures I took, use them as you will.
(Hat Tip: TE & JJ!)


Anonymous said...

I read yesterday (The Trib and SunTimes, I believe) that the took on 25 feet of water. I go to the Bally's there and the general manager told me it would be several months until it could reopen, maybe not until Janauary ...

Anonymous said...

can you share the pictures sent?

Anonymous said...

Wow. That is not good for that building. I am pretty sure that building had high assessments as it was.

Andy said...

Kind of ironic considering the name is River City, no?

Anonymous said...

would you mind posting the pictures? I am curious.

Cherise said...

There is video on YouTube of the flood. Unfortunately, I can't provide the link since YouTube is blocked on my work computer, but if you Google "River City" + flood it'll come up. My husband took pictures of the cars being pulled from the garage, but again, I can't provide the link because my access to Facebook is currently blocked.

I live in River City and a lot of residents have been complaining on blogs and Twitter of a lack of information. My husband and I not thrilled with our situation, of course, but as unit owners we are heavily invested, emotionally and financially, in the future of the building and have taken it upon ourselves to find the information we need by talking to security and the management office. Go to the post office on Canal Street and ask them to hold your mail. File for FEMA aid to recoup your emergency evacuation expenses--there's no guarantee this will come through, but it's worth trying. Information can be found in many recent Tribune and Sun-Times articles. Yes, it's unfortunate that no one can provide an estimate for returning to the building, but NO ONE knows. Nearly everything in the building--electric, water, fire systems, elevators, HVAC--needs to be repaired or replaced entirely.

We think city public services crews did a commendable job handling this crisis.

Most of all, be grateful that you weren't trapped in that damned garage at 3 am Sunday. I'm devastated, absolutely devastated, that my car's destroyed, but I'm thankful as all get-out that I wasn't inside of it at the time.

I hope all my neighbors are safe as well.

Cherise said...

In response to the comment about hotels being full Saturday: We looked for a hotel nearby and could not find a vacancy for less than several hundred dollars a night. Several people in the management office told us this was becaus. "Transformers 3" crews were occupying most of the local hotels. Also, Ford was hosting the Explorer launch in Millennium Park, so the event organizers and out-of-town media also occupied hotel rooms.

Wes said...

About fifty photos of the flooding can be seen at a Flickr photostream I've set up here:

Like Reese said above, I was there on Monday to record the cars being removed from the garage, and to document damage to our vehicle for insurance.

Around 3 AM, the overhead doors to the underground garage were compromised from river water, which had overflooded the retaining wall around the marina, building up against them. The resultant flooding filled the garage with an estimated five million gallons, to the depth of nearly twelve feet, in the span of ten minutes. The force of the water was so great that cars were being lifted up and floated into walls, pillars, and each other. The garage has 130 parking bays, and there were between 80 to 90 vehicles, including some pricey Cadillacs, Audis, and Porsches, inside when the flooding happened.

If there was a silver lining to the incident, it is that nobody was in the garage when this occurred. Judging by the speed with which the garage filled, it would surely have been fatal to whomever was trapped inside.

Although the power hasn't been restored yet, and may not be for a while, I was at River City this morning and crews were working on infrastructure (HVAC, elevator, water, etc.) repairs concurrently with ComEd. At least the amount of downtime is being minimized this way.

If you're a displaced resident and haven't received the hotline number yet, you can call 312-565-6111 to hear recorded status updates on the building and information as to mail pickup and insurance as it comes available. If you leave your phone number, you'll be entered into the system to receive extremely important news, which is sent out in a voice mail blast.

Anonymous said...

I must have imagined the 25 feet of water ... apparently it was 12 based on several news sites. Sun-Times said it was a Level 1 HazMat situation because of chlorine, from the pool at Bally's, I imagine, unless there was another one in the complex.
There's a pix here in the Sun Times of firefighters using a rowboat to go into the garage.


Anonymous said...

If you live in River City you might want to double check that security firm you have watching the 'closed bulding'. I was able to walk inside (right past 3 guards sitting on the sofas in the atrium without being questioned). I spent about 15 minutes exploring before heading out past those same guards.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard any news on the possible re-opening of River City? Even an estimated date would be helpful. The hotline doesn't get updated for days and even then they are saying no clear estimate and posting nothing new. I just wish they would be more open and honest with the residents even if that means that they need to tell us it could be 10 to 30 more days.... By now doesn't anyone have some idea of what work needs to be done and how long it will take?

Anonymous said...

I live down the street, this bldg is a mess. Its filthy, never maintained, littered with trash and overgrown with weeds. Its no wonder that it flooded...who was the genius that decided installing all mechanicals on the lowest level of the bldg was a good idea? Can you say death trap? While they are at it, they should gut the entire thing and preserve it to its original purpose...a luxury condo bldg with shops and restaurants over looking the river. Currently it looks like a huge housing project with no commercial space at all. I don't particularly like the looks of this structure but I see why so many do. It has always had and continues to have the potential to be a beautiful retreat for boaters, tourists, etc. Imagine a lovely cafe or better, a prime sea food restaurant overlooking the banks of the south river with outdoor seating and music. Its a shame this bldg is in such disarray. I say, if you don't fix it and restore it....demo it, its not only a total eye sore...its dangerous!

Anonymous said...

@anon 6:56AM: I have no idea when we'll be allowed back in. We were told a maximum of three weeks earlier, but the new official line is that they can't give an accurate estimate.

@anon 8:22AM: Death trap? All buildings have their mechanicals in the basement. If you live up the street, you're either in a converted factory that has its own problems, or Roosevelt Collection, Vetro, or some other similar soulless modern affectation that tries to make up for a lack of character by using lots of aluminum. Kindly shut up, please.

Anonymous said...

Soulless Modern Affectation? Really? What do you think your beloved River City was deemed when erected amongst all the historical beauty that is Printer's Row? Any guesses? Really? Be careful of throwing stones neighbor, (especially to those of of that bought very expensive units in newer bldgs that most definitely add value to Printers) as you live in a very large glass house!

PS. All mechanicals are not in basements fyi, they most certainly are not 1 level below ground in a bldg that sits on the river! And no, I will not shut up, kindly or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Was just down there today to grab some things. The security guys say August 13th before we can move back in.

Barb said...

What is the status of River City now? Is everything fixed? My daughter wants to move in.

Alisa said...


We were allowed to move back in on August 14th.

AS of October 17th:
We probably won't have heat for a month because apparently it takes a rocket scientist/a month to fix everything. But it's okay Marc Realty told us to "exercise our common sense".

Currently two elevators are out, one semi-permanently, the other for two weeks.

Occasionally the water is turned off for short times as needed for repairs.