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Flood Damage in Downtown Chicago? Here’s What to Do

If you’ve experienced storm flooding, a flooded basement, or flooding anywhere in your home, you’re probably wondering what to do. 

You don’t want the damage to get worse, but you’re not sure how to begin addressing it.

Don’t worry. You’re not alone.

At ServiceMaster of Lake Shore, we regularly help downtown Chicago home and business owners address flood damage, restore their properties, and prevent water damage from wreaking havoc in the future.

Keep reading to learn how to repair flood damage, how to stay safe in the process, and when to contact a team of flood damage restoration professionals. 

Why Does Downtown Chicago Flood So Often?

basement flooding chicago

Chicago, like many metropolitan areas, is densely populated, which creates pockets of warmer air directly over the city. 

These pockets of warm air intensify storms and can lead to heavy rainfall. 

Chicago is also seeing increasingly severe storms due to climate change. 

When severe storms hit Chicago, the rain they create lands on countless square miles of concrete, which generates billions of gallons of run-off. 

All that run-off quickly overwhelms the city’s aging plumbing infrastructure, leading to sewage backup and flooding in thousands of homes across the area. 

Last but not least, the city is close to Lake Michigan, which creates a humid climate that makes pipes more likely to burst and freeze during the frigid winter months. 

What to Do if Your Chicago Property Has Flooded

what to do if your chicago property has flooded

Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do after flooding in your Chicago home:


If the flooding is minimal (meaning there’s not very much standing water, the water that is present is clean and uncontaminated, and it’s not affecting electrical appliances), follow these steps:

1. Stop the flow of water

Unless the flooding is due to a storm or act of nature, find the source of the water and shut it off. 

The fastest way to do this is to turn off your home’s main water supply, which will shut off water to the entire property. 

2. Contact your insurance company

Contact your insurance company and let them know about the flood damage and begin the process of filing an insurance claim. 

If you’re unsure whether your policy covers water damage, now is an excellent time to revisit your plan details. 

3. Report the flooding to 311

Next, report the water backup to the city by calling 311 or going to 311.chicago.gov

To report the damage, you’ll need to provide your address, a description of the water (whether it’s dirty or clean), a general idea of where the water is coming from, an estimation of how much water is backed up, and where the water is pooling.

4. Remove damaged property

Next, prepare the space for restoration by removing damaged furniture, belongings, and other property. If the item can’t be thoroughly washed or laundered, get rid of it. 

Flood-damaged items may contain dangerous pathogens, especially if the water that entered your home was dirty or contaminated. 

5. Soak up standing water

Next, use a mop, towels, or a wet-dry vacuum to soak up standing water in the flood-damaged area. 

Remove as much water as possible during this step to speed up drying and reduce the likelihood of mold and mildew damage.

6. Dry the area

Open windows and place standing fans throughout the area to speed up drying and promote airflow. 

Make sure to rotate the fans every few hours to dry the entire surface area. You can also rent industrial-grade fans, which are larger and more powerful than standing fans. 

7. Sanitize surfaces

Next, wash all contaminated surfaces with warm, soapy water and disinfect them with a bleach/water solution containing 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. 

This helps kill mold spores and pathogens and makes surfaces safe once more. 


water damage restoration equipment

If the flood damage is extensive, meaning the water in your home is contaminated (more on this in a moment), it’s affecting a large area, or it’s impacting electrical appliances, follow these steps:

1. Shut off the water main

If the flooding is coming from your home’s plumbing or appliances, prevent the issue from getting worse by shutting off the home’s water main. 

If the flooding was caused by an act of nature, like severe rain or storm runoff, you might not be able to stop the water flow. 

2. Secure the area

Before you begin the cleanup process, ensure the area is safe. 

Shut off the room’s electricity at your breaker box and identify potential hazards (like compromised walls or ceilings) or highly contaminated water that contains raw sewage or other pathogens. 

Always wear tall rubber boots and gloves to protect yourself if you plan on entering the flooded room(s). 

3. Document the damage

Before the cleanup process begins, take photos of the flooding and the damaged items so you can provide them to your insurance company. 

If the flooding involves sewage or hazardous material, use extreme caution during this process. 

4. Contact your insurance company

Contact your insurance company and let them know about the flood damage. 

Double-check your coverage and follow the agent’s next steps to file a claim. 

5. Call ServiceMaster of Lake Shore – Chicago’s Top Restoration Company

Next, call a restoration company to help repair the damage and reclaim your property. 

ServiceMaster of Lake Shore offers emergency flood damage cleanup services and more to help you get life back to normal. Since we provide 24-hour emergency water damage cleanup, you can rest assured that we’ll never leave you waiting when water damage strikes. Contact us today to schedule your service or request more information: (312) 707-8597

6. Report the flooding to 311

Last but not least, report water backup in your home or business. 

To do this, call 311 or go to 311.chicago.gov

Be prepared to provide your address, a description of the water (whether it’s dirty or clean), a general idea of where the water is coming from, an estimation of how much water is backed up, and where the water is pooling.

Are You Dealing With Flood Damage In Downtown Chicago? We Can Help!

Don’t cope with flood damage alone! Let our team help. 

We provide flood damage cleanup services to home and business owners in the downtown Chicago area, including Magnificent Mile, Chicago Loop, West Loop, River North, and Lincoln Square. 

Contact us today to learn more or to request a flood damage inspection: (312) 707-8597