CARY – When it rains, it pours.
And when it pours, the homes in the Cary neighborhood where Crest and Sunset drives meet fill with several feet of water.
On Thursday, the village of Cary met with those and other residents to hear their concerns about the flood-prone neighborhood. Residents, both past and current, wept as they told stories about how severe flooding has affected their lives.
“It was horrifying,” Clyde Porter said of the 17 years he spent at 57 Sunset Drive.
He and his family finally moved out in November 2011 after six separate floods ruined the lower level of their home.
“You probably enjoy listening to rain inside your house,” Porter said. “But we were never able to do that. We were always in the street with the raincoats ... making sure that the grates were clear. But you couldn't stop water.”
“I have spent more time carrying couches out to my curb than actually sitting on them,” said Candi Neely, who has lived on Sunset Drive since 2009. “I have four children who love the park district and we love the schools, but we hate being in Cary because of what happens to our home.”
When Cary got hit with nearly 6 inches of rain in less than four hours last month, Neely and at least a half dozen other residents at Sunset and Crest drives saw their garages and lower levels filled with water. The village said a total of 37 homes and eight businesses reported flood damage in Cary.
Thursday's meeting was meant for the village to listen to the residents' concerns and begin the initial stages of forming a plan to prevent another flood from devastating homes, Mayor Mark Kownick said.
“Our goal right now is to make sure that we find a solution for you right now,” Kownick said. “I understand there's been a history in the neighborhood. We've done our research on it. We just need to move forward and figure out what's going to be the best way that we're going to handle this situation.”
Neighbors described a four-decade long history of flooding at Crest and Sunset, and many residents blamed the village for not taking action sooner.
“I know that the village [was aware of the flooding] because you were gracious enough to send dumpsters out each time it flooded,” Porter said.
Last month Nathan Hughes' and Vanessa Barrie's lower-level bedroom, bathroom, living space and office were all flooded. Their hot water heater, washer, dryer and furnace were all destroyed.
They live in the house Porter and his family left in 2011. They moved in less than two months ago, and it was the first home the young couple purchased together.
The village said Thursday it is pursing outside funding for Small Business Administration loans, FEMA public assistance and possible federal funding. The village has also hired an engineering firm to assess the damage and is planning for potential capital improvement programs.
“You are going to have a vacant landfill there someday,” Porter said. “And you can pick the terms today, or you can get the terms later. But people deserve better than this.”