Remembering the Floods of 1996

Those that lived in Aurora in 1996 remember the devastation and damage that was caused by severe flooding from July 18 to July 20, 1996. Most of us still share the stories of watching our basements and homes fill up with water, seeing kids literally swimming in the streets, and helping each other remove lost contents from our homes, and piling stacks of sopping wet garbage on the curb for garbage trucks to take away.

Record Flooding Devastates Aurora, IL and Surrounding Cities

Kishwaukee River Flood in Illinois
Source: Wikipedia

The record flooding occurred due to large amounts of rain that fell over just a couple days. Local creeks, streams, and rivers overflowed, sending rivers of water into our communities and neighborhoods. For many, the sewage also began backing up into basements and homes as the local sanitation departments had no where to send the sewage once the rivers grew so high, along with the combination of storm and sanitary drainage systems which became flooded with rain water, leaving very little room for sewage and forcing the water to seek any place it go, leading it directly into our basements.

According to the US Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Office of Water Resources;

“Record rainfall amounts over 16 in. were reported for the 24-hour period ending at 7:00 a.m. on July 18, 1996, in northern Illinois. These amounts resulted from several subsequent thunderstorms tracking along the same west to east stalled low-pressure front. This rainfall produced record flooding in highly urbanized northern Illinois (fig. 1) from July 18 through July 20, 1996. This flooding caused hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage and two deaths (Chicago Tribune, July 21 and July 26, 1996). Numerous houses were inundated (fig. 2), and roadway infrastructure in the area was damaged as many roads and bridges were washed out. Three dams in the region experienced complete failure, whereas numerous other dams were overtopped experiencing varying degrees of damage.

It wasn’t just Illinois that was affected. In fact, the Illinois Governor Jim Edgar declared a state of disaster for 15 northern Illinois. It didn’t take long for President Clinton to make most of those counties Federal disaster areas, as well.

Below is a video taken in a nearby city, Sugar Grove, which shows the extent of the flooding and water damage. This was the reality for many Northern Illinois residents in July of 1996:

The Aftermath: Cleaning Up the City

After the water drained from the streets and the rivers and streams began to return to their normal levels, millions of residents and businesses had to begin rebuilding. While insurance adjusters went from home to home to help their customers and get them their funds as quickly as possible so they could pay for their cleanup and restorations, millions of homeowners were left to restore on their own since they didn’t have the proper flood insurance needed to cover the damages.

We spoke with one local water damage restoration worker in the area who said, ” we’re located in Elgin, IL, about 20 miles north of Aurora but we’re seeing restoration companies coming from dozens of states to help homeowners remove the existing water in the their homes, ensure no mold will be growing in their house, and to help them dry out their homes and property. It’s great to see so many people coming together to help each other and get this great city back up and running.”

With billions of dollars of damages to the area and plenty of insurance and FEMA money available to help affected homeowners, many damage restoration and construction businesses came to the area to assist the local clean up.

Rebuilt – Back to Normal

It took many years, and some areas still show signs of the damage caused by the flooding in July of 1996 but, as a whole, the city of Aurora rebuilt and came back better than ever. Much like the Chicago fire that damaged much of the city a century ago, this disaster brought the city of Aurora together and helped make Aurora the great city it is today.

Four (4) Awesome Places to Eat & Drink in Aurora, IL

downtownaurora.org places to eat & drinkAurora Illinois is home to some of the best local restaurants, bars, pubs, and breweries in the entire Chicagoland area. While most people might be searching for the “Signature Rooms” in the area, which sits atop the John Hancock Building, but if you’re like us over here at downtownaurora.org, you also love to find the local gems that provide amazing food and amazing drinks in an awesome atmosphere.

Four (4) Awesome Places to Eat & Drink in Aurora, IL

This list won’t touch on the most popular places in the Fox Valley, but it will highlight some of the great local places that we highly recommend you visit if you have some free time on your hands.

Two Brothers Roundhouse

Two Brothers has become a popular local name in the craft beer sector. In addition to providing some of the best craft beer in the country, Two Brothers also has some local places where you can eat and drink some of their best recipes. One of their locations is in Aurora on N. Broadway. While we really enjoyed their pub burger, we also like to read reviews and feedback from local customers on Google. Here’s a great review:

This place is freaking awesome inside. It’s shaped like a big donut! The middle is like a Biergarten. There are concerts too! All the beer I tried of there’s was good, food was decent too. This is my new go to spot! – Zach Z. on Google

Pomegranate Cafe

Located in a quiet shopping center near the Fox Valley Mall, just a half mile from the corner of Rt 59 and Ogden Ave, and next to United Healthcare and 1st Family Dental of Fox Valley, the Pomegranate Restaurant is a great local gem that provides amazing diner food that we love to frequent during breakfast, brunch, and lunch hours.

One of our writers, Chris, highly recommends the veggie quesadillas.

Juquilita Tacos

When visiting the local area, this little taco shop is a must. Aurora is home to some great authentic mexican restaurants and taquerias. Juquilita Tacos is a quiet place that provides amazing at a great price. Despite misspelling their own name on their website, we highly recommend visiting this for some great tacos. Here’s what one local reviewer Google reviewer;

The food is very good – among the best I’ve found in the 3 yrs I’ve been in this area. Tortas, tacos and burritos are all very good. This is not a place to dine in despite the fact that there are tables there because it is cluttered. This is very much like a place you’d find in Mexico if you were to go off the “strip” of tourist places. What it lacks in atmosphere is more than compensated for by great food at reasonable prices.

The salsa are great, both red (hot) and the very tasty green.

De King’s Tavern

A great local place to belly up to the bar and have a drink. It doesn’t get much better than the friendly staff and great tasting (and affordable!) tap beer available at De King’s. If you look through the numerous 5 star reviews on Google, you’ll notice people mentioning the great staff, clean atmosphere, pool table, juke box, and one person even calls it the “perfect hole in the wall bar”. That’s a great compliment. Swing by and have a PBR next time you’re in town.

Those are four amazing places to eat and drink in the Aurora area. Aurora is a big town that’s home to hundreds of amazing places to eat and drink and these are four that recently stood out to us. Feel free to share your favorite places and we might include them in our next write up – email us at info@downtownaurora.org.

 

The Best Malls in Aurora, IL

Chicago, IL Water Tower Place
Water Tower Place in Chicago, IL – ~40 miles east of Aurora, IL

Throughout the United States, malls are a common destination for American families to visit for shopping, eating, movies and more. While most people think about big malls, like the Mall of America in Minnesota or the Water Tower Place mall in Chicago, there are thousands of smaller malls that serve hundreds of millions of customers on a regular basis, especially during the holiday season.

If you’re living in the Chicago area, you know there are many malls to choose between. From the Geneva Commons or Algonquin Commons on Randall Rd, to the Huntley Outlet Mall, the Oak Brook outdoor mall, the Spring Hill mall, or even Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. Each of these malls are so different. While location is important for convenience, there are also many other factors to consider, including; cleanliness, stores available, parking options, and much more.

Chicago Premium Outlet Malls

For many years the Aurora Outlet mall – known as the Chicago Premium Outlets – has been a destination for millions of northern Illinois residents in order to to find great deals on their favorite products and brands, including; Coach, Banana Republic, Express, and many more.

Being located right off major tollway, “the Reagan”, route 88 and the corner of Kirk Rd has made the Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora, IL an common shopping choice for millions of Illinois residents.

Fox Valley Mall

The Fox Vally  mall is also located near the major highway, route 88, just south of the route 59 exit, and not far from the delicious Chicago restaurant, Portillos. Located less than a mile from the intersection of route 59 and Ogden Ave, and only 3 miles south of Rt. 88, this mall is a common, convenient choice for local visitors.

Looking for more than just shopping? Like many of the local malls, the Fox Valley mall is not far from many movie theaters and some great eating spots.

Welcome to Downtown Aurora

Shop in Downtown Aurora

The heart of Aurora offers a unique sense of place for its citizens and visitors alike. Downtown Aurora’s historic architecture provides solid character and its riverfront location promotes the value of our environment and natural resources. With a year round calendar of special events and our new Festival Park, Downtown Aurora is a center of activity for families to enjoy.

Downtown is also the hub for culture and entertainment, hosting the internationally acclaimed Aurora football team, award winning City of Light’s Library, the Fox River Cultural Center, and the Aurora Historical Museum.

The business district in Downtown is formed by unique shops and restaurants with flavors from around the world in a pedestrian friendly atmosphere.

Work in the Chicago Suburbs

Downtown Aurora offers a wide variety of services and building options for businesses, making it a great option to draw new businesses to the local Chicagoland area. Being easily accessible to transportation, we make it easy for local citizens to travel, including; the Pace bus system, and being easily access to nearby interstate highways make it an easy commute to and from surrounding areas.

Businesses and employees also have easy access to a wide variety of services that help make the day-to-day routine easier.  Services include dry cleaning, banks, post office, shoe repair and professional assistance.  And you don’t have to drive to lunch; Downtown Elgin has a wide variety of restaurants serving lunch and dinner. In addition, hospitals and childcare are close at hand.  Finally, you can easily work out during the noon hour or after work at The Entrance, Aurora’s premiere workout facility.

Locate your business in one of our beautifully restored buildings, most featuring renovated workspaces and internet connections.