- Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Rob Linke, senior water resources engineer at Kane County Division of Environmental and Water Resources.
This week marks the 25th anniversary of the July 1996 flood that soaked the southern half of Kane County with rainfall that ranged from 8 inches up to a whopping 16.94 inches in Aurora.
According to the National Weather Service and Illinois State Water Survey, as much as 1,000 square miles across parts of Kane, Kendall, Will, DuPage, Cook, DeKalb and Ogle counties received as much as 12 inches of rain in the 24 hour period spanning July 17 to July 18, 1996.
Engineers note that the “100 Year 24 Hour storm” used for drainage design at the time was 7.6 inches and now currently stands at 8.6 inches.
The resulting flood killed six people, caused an estimated $600 million in damages (in 1996 dollars), and more than 35,000 homes were impacted across Northeastern Illinois.
Although there no smart phones and technology was limited at that time, Kane County’s Director of Water Resources Paul Schuch managed to document the flooding by conducting an aerial survey of the flood. That video is embedded above and can still be viewed on YouTube.
The July 1996 storm is forever etched in the memory of those who were there and experienced it and dealt with the aftermath this historic storm event produced.
As a result of the event, Kane County partnered with municipalities to develop a countywide Stormwater Management Ordinance which was adopted in 2002 and updated most recently in 2019.
Since 1996, Northeastern Illinois has experienced numerous storms that have caused billions of dollars in flood damages. The IDNR reported in 2015 that across the state, there had been more than $2.3 billion in documented flood damages between 2007 and 2014.
More than 90% of the urban flooding damage claims for the same period came from properties that are outside of the currently mapped floodplains.
Kane County Senior Water Resources Engineer Rob Linke said the 25th anniversary of the 1996 flood is a good time for Kane County residents to reflect and make sure they understand potential flooding risks to their homes and their communities.
“As the technical experts are forecasting that the magnitude and frequency of flood inducing storms is expected to increase, we are reminded by past events, such as the July 1996 flood, that we must continue to work diligently and thoughtfully to identify areas susceptible to these increasing storm threats and develop solutions to protect life and property from being lost or damaged by them,” he said. “Let’s get to work!”
For more information about floodplains in Kane County and permit requirements for residential properties in the floodplain, please visit this page of the Kane County Division of Water and Environmental Resources website.
- National Weather Service: www.weather.gov/lot/1996floodanniversary
- Illinois Department of Natural Resources: www2.illinois.gov/dnr/WaterResources/Documents/Final_UFAA_Report.pdf
Related Kane County Connect Articles
- 1 INCH OF WATER = $25,000 DAMAGE — HERE’S HOW KANE RESIDENTS CAN GET FEMA FLOOD INSURANCE
- KANE COUNTY HISTORY: AURORA WILL NEVER FORGET THE GREAT FLOOD OF 1857
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