MUNSTER | No one from Munster is going to forget the massive flood of 2008 — or the promises that measures would be taken to prevent it from ever happening again.
Six years later, measures still need to be taken to protect neighborhoods should the Little Calumet River overflow its banks.
Towns along the river have built strong levees, but they’re not all the same height, and that may cause problems.
At the state line, neighbors Munster and Lansing have levels of protection at 601 and 598 feet of the mean sea level, respectively, a benefit of the $250 million Little Calumet River Flood Control Project.
However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has called for a tie-back system between the two towns' levee structures. A tie-back levee is a way to prevent floodwaters from overflowing around the end of a levee and floodwalls.
Tie-back levees characteristically extend from the main levee along a river, lake, or coast to a bluff line (high ground).
Town Engineer Jim Mandon explained at a recent meeting that if floodwaters rise above the 598 feet level, water will spill over the Lansing levee and flood the area north of the Interstate 80/94 west of the Illinois-Indiana state line.
Floodwaters could eventually back up storm sewers under the expressway and top manhole structures, reaching the Burnham Avenue underpass. As a result, Lansing neighborhoods south of I-80/94 would flood.
Burnham is at an elevation that could permit floodwaters to cross to the south, Mandon explained in a letter to the Town Council. The flow of floodwater would then travel east over the state line and flood homes in Munster north of Broadmoor, from State Line Avenue to Manor Drive.
The Town Council has dismissed the idea, for now, of using 2,800 linear feet of inflatable water bladders, placed by town personnel during an extreme rainfall event, as a tie-back system to hold back floodwater. Although recommended by the corps, town officials find the plan too costly.
Munster and Lansing are now working on a cooperative agreement to address levee issues.
Lansing Mayor Norm Abbott has signed off on an agreement permitting Munster to proceed with an engineering study of physical improvements to the storm sewer outfalls and manholes.
Noting a need to discuss the agreement further and pinpoint solutions, the Munster Town Council tabled ratification.
“I want a permanent solution. We should look at the whole picture,” Councilman David Nellans said.