Facebook Twitter



Heavy rains Wednesday delayed efforts to stop the leak that caused Chicago's underground flood, but work resumed later Wednesday morning after the sun came out. Power was restored to all but 50 of the 200 buildings that were blackened along the Loop.

At the Chicago Board of Trade, one of the world's largest commodities exchanges, traders in their colorful jackets and badges mingled in hallways with rubber-booted workers still trying to pump water from the building's basement. The board expected to operate a shortened session Wednesday.The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which deals in stock indexes, livestock and other commodities, opened as usual Wednesday, the first normal business day it has had this week.

The rain Wednesday delayed work on plugging the leak and caused water levels to rise briefly again in some buildings.

But workers resumed pouring sand bags into a shaft at the leak site after the threat of lightning ended, said Bob Wysocki, a Department of Streets and Sanitation spokesman.

Commonwealth Edison Co. said about 50 buildings remained without power Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday, Mayor Richard M. Daley said the crack that caused the flood, costing businesses tens of millions in losses, could have been fixed for a mere $10,000. He fired the department chief he held responsible.

Daley said acting Transportation Director John La-Plante ignored an April 2 memo warning that immediate repairs were needed in a tunnel under the Chicago River. The memo contained the cost estimate.

"The problem was brought to his attention, but he failed to act, resulting in a major problem that could have been avoided," Daley said. "This was not a minor oversight."

LaPlante countered: "I did a good job here. I don't have any apologies to make for that. This was a circumstance that was obviously beyond my control and may have been beyond anyone's control."

Workers and engineers continued efforts to plug the tunnel under the Chicago River that flooded the downtown area. A diver entered the water early Wednesday to survey the situation but was pulled back up immediately when the current proved too strong.

Riders using public transportation faced the same problems Wednesday that they had Tuesday: no subway service in the Loop, said spokesman Bob Bizar. Even so, "We have no major delays to report," Bizar said.

Marshall Field's flagship State Street store and another major retailer, Carson Pirie Scott, both of which reported major flooding in sub-basements, remained closed Wednesday.

The tunnel burst Monday, sending water through 50 miles of underground passages and flooding basements under Chicago's Loop, the main business district. The tunnels were used by rail cars from 1906 to the 1950s to move coal, mail and merchandise, but now hold optic cables and electrical equipment.