Floodplains should be seen in their natural context. They are more than just hazardous locations for human development. Open and natural areas, such as the Forest Preserves, absorb much more rain and floodwater than urbanized areas, reducing flood flows on downstream properties. Wetland plants filter storm water runoff, making it cleaner for those downstream.
Nearby Forest Preserves, such as Lansing Woods, have kept or restored oak woodlands and prairies close to their natural state. These flood prone areas are used by a variety of wildlife and provide habitat for species that cannot live or breed anywhere else. For example, after being gone for over 150 years, beaver have moved back into the North Creek and Little Calumet River floodplains.
It is important that we preserve such natural areas and wetlands. While some development is allowed, the Village and State and Federal agencies make sure that the natural benefits of any filled wetlands are compensated by creation of additional or improved wetland habitats nearby.
Another concern is water quality. The storm drain system carries untreated storm water runoff directly to our streams. Pouring wastes into storm drains directly impacts our environment. Oil, anti-freeze, paint, fertilizer and pesticides pollute the water, destroy plants, and endanger wildlife. For example, one quart of oil can contaminate 250,000 gallons of water. The oil from one motor oil change can create an eight acre oil slick. Therefore, you should do your part to help keep our streams and storm drains free of pollutants.
Native prairie and wetland plants have deep root systems that absorb and hold storm water better than typical lawns. Preserving these plants reduces flooding and drainage problems.
Sammy's Safety Tips
Clean everything out that got wet. Flood waters have picked up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms, factories, and storage buildings. Spoiled foods, flooded cosmetics, and medicine can be a health hazard.
When in doubt, throw them out.
Carbon monoxide exhaust kills. Use a generator or other gasoline-powered machine outdoors. The same goes for camping stoves. Charcoal fumes are especially deadly - cook with charcoal outdoors.
Take good care of yourself. Recovering from a flood is a big job. It is tough on both the body and the spirit and the effects a disaster has on you and your family may last a long time. Keep your eyes open for signs of anxiety, stress, and fatigue in youself and your family.