Afternoon Edition: More Chicago homes at risk of flooding than people realize

Today’s update is about an eight-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Kindy Kruller, 48, of Portage Park, in her basement, which has flooded four times in the last year and a half. Since 2019, about 38,000 Chicagoans have reported flooded basements to the city’s nonemergency helpline.

Jessica Alvarado Gamez/WBEZ

Good afternoon, Chicago. ✶

The Illinois State Fair, a 170-year-old celebration of state pride, agriculture, fried food and networking politicians, officially kicks off Friday in Springfield.

Arguably one of the best parts of the state fair is the annual unveiling of the cow sculpture made entirely of butter.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker hit the fairgrounds Wednesday to unveil the 102nd butter cow, which this year also includes a model of a woman milking the iconic dairy queen. She’s also completely made of butter, but cannot be outdone by the 800-pound leading lady with mooovie star looks.

If you can’t make it to see the buttery star of the fair this year, fret not — you can just watch a livestream of the cow here, as she slowly rotates in her display case.

Now, here are the stories you need to know today.

⏱️: A 7-minute read

— Matt Moore, newsletter reporter (@MattKenMoore)


Many more Chicago area homes have a high risk of flooding than people realize, research finds

Reporting by Amy Qin

Measuring the risk: Less than 1% of properties in Chicago are in what the Federal Emergency Management Agency has deemed to be a high-risk flood zone. In such areas, homeowners are required to get flood insurance if they have a federally backed mortgage. FEMA’s flood maps are the main tool used to communicate flood risk.

FEMA maps fall short: The FEMA flood maps paint an incomplete picture of where flooding can occur and leave many in the dark about their flood risk, according to research by the First Street Foundations, a nonprofit that quantifies climate risk. According to First Street, FEMA underestimates flood risk because it focuses on coastal and riverine flooding but not pluvial flooding, the type that occurs when heavy rainfall causes flooding. Pluvial flooding is likely to have the greatest impact on an inland urban area like Chicago, with all of its impermeable concrete.

A more accurate representation: First Street’s flood model ranks Cook County second among all counties nationwide for the number of properties with significant flood risk that aren’t shown on FEMA’s maps. About 172,000 properties in Cook County have a high risk of flooding — about eight times more than what FEMA’s maps show, according to First Street’s assessment. In Chicago, about 79,000 properties are at high risk. That’s more than 50 times higher than the number of high-risk Chicago properties indicated on FEMA’s maps.



Tim Mapes Dirksen Federal Court Building Chicago

Tim Mapes, former chief of staff for Michael Madigan, leaves the Dirksen Federal Courthouse with his attorney. Day two of Mapes’ perjury trial began today.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

  • Perjury trial of former Madigan top aide continues: Federal prosecutors continued to make their case today that Michael Madigan’s longtime chief of staff Tim Mapes lied under oath in 2021, highlighting three of his allegedly false answers for the jury. Our Jon Seidel has the latest at today’s proceeding.
  • Longtime public housing activist mourned: Carole Steele, known as the “queen of Cabrini-Green,” is being remembered as a “go-getter” and mentor by loved ones and peers. She died Aug. 3 at age 72.
  • Bears change primary logo: Quietly this offseason, the Bears made their bear head logo their primary one. Before, the logo shared primary duties with the wishbone “C” that the team wears on its helmet.
  • Springsteen, E Street Band deliver at Wrigley: Springsteen and company returned to the Friendly Confines for a three-hour, 26-song grand slam of music, Selena Fragassi writes in her review of The Boss’ set for the Sun-Times.


Reporting by Katie Anthony

A sea of faces stares out from Matthew Jesiolowski’s abstract mural at Chicago Auto Recon Body Shop, 1358 W. Cermak Road.

Some seem to stare at passersby through thick lashes. Others gaze through a single eyeball. Some flash shy smiles, others toothy grins, and a few show fangs, as if out of a nightmare.

“I’ve always enjoyed sort of the chaos,” Jesiolowski says.

He says he draws inspiration for the chaos from the late artist Jackson Pollock and inspiration for the line work from Shel Silverstein, the late, Chicago-born author and artist kids might know from his children’s poetry books.

“The good old Shel Silverstein ‘Light in the Attack’ or ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends,’ those books had an impact on me when I was a kid,” Jesiolowski says.




A still of 1948 Bud Billiken Parade footage filmed by Ramon Williams.

South Side Home Movies Project

‘Rare jewel’ color footage of 1948 Bud Billiken Parade rediscovered

Reporting by Ayana Contreras

Since 1929, the Bud Billiken Parade has been an annual, uniquely Black Chicago, end-of-summer ritual, bringing thousands to Bronzeville to celebrate tradition and community — and mark the beginning of another school year.

The beauty and joy of this event are on full display in recently unearthed footage from 1948, which shows a procession of community members, dignitaries and stunning floats as thousands of paradegoers watch.

“It’s in dazzling Kodachrome color and looks almost like it hasn’t aged a day,” said Justin D. Williams, project manager for South Side Home Movie Project, which archived and digitized the footage.

“It features many Chicago historical figures including Joe Louis (serving as grand marshal), [Chicago Defender publisher] John Sengstacke, Chicago Mayor Kelley, and David Kellum (a Defender editor and the creator of the Bud Billiken character).”

The footage was filmed by Ramon Williams, who shot films throughout the city and much of the American South, according to the movie project.

The 1948 parade was the first time Bud Billiken Day was declared a municipal and state holiday — and it marked the first time attendance peaked to more than 500,000 paradegoers, Williams said.

You can watch the footage here.

The Bud Billiken Parade returns for its 94th year Saturday, stepping off at 10 a.m. at 39th Street and Martin Luther King Drive.



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