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Article updated: 4/19/2013 6:55 PM

Naperville flood cleanup won't be a snap

Water spilled well over the banks of Centennial Beach in Naperville.

Water spilled well over the banks of Centennial Beach in Naperville.


Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Flood water from the DuPage River spilled into Naperville’s Centennial Beach, right up to its bathhouse.

Flood water from the DuPage River spilled into Naperville's Centennial Beach, right up to its bathhouse.


Daniel White | Staff Photographer

A city worker works to remove water near Naperville’s city hall.

A city worker works to remove water near Naperville's city hall.


Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Sandbagging helped mitigate the flooding in downtown Naperville.

Sandbagging helped mitigate the flooding in downtown Naperville.


Daniel White | Staff Photographer

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Citywide flood cleanup was in full force in Naperville on Friday, but if waiting lists at local flood damage restoration companies are any indication, the recovery could take significantly longer.

Robert Jones, of AllPro Inc. Flood and Fire Repair said his phone hasn't stopped ringing since 10 p.m. Wednesday.

"My current waiting list stretches to May 7," Jones said Friday afternoon. "I've been doing this kind of work for 15 years, and I've never seen anything like this."

Naperville's AdvantaClean representative Natalie Lance said the company has received 377 calls since about 3 a.m. Thursday and has called up crews from as far away as Kansas and Mississippi to assist with the workload.

"Our technicians are responding to our emergency calls within 36 hours," Lance said. "Once that contact is made we're setting up appointments in the near future."

Elsewhere in the city, residents and business owners who utilized thousands of sandbags are making arrangements to have them picked up.

The good news, though, is that all four bridges stretching across the DuPage River that were closed Thursday night reopened Friday afternoon.

"Thankfully the water has been receding at a rate that allowed clean up and recovery to begin this morning," said city spokeswoman Linda LaCloche. "It's been an incredible effort by everyone."

The Riverwalk was hardest hit as the river overflowed the banks, rising over sculptures, monuments, benches and flooding the basements of local businesses.

LaCloche said city crews made several sandbag drops to businesses near the river.

Officials have also begun to assess both the damage and response to local flooding during the past 48 hours.

Already deemed a success was the city's conversion of its online winter snow plowing map into a continuously updated map highlighting flooded and closed streets throughout the city.

"We've already received more than 41,000 hits on that map so we're happy it has proved to be a valuable source to the community," LaCloche said. "People are using it and staying safe as they get to and from."

Beginning shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday, the city closed bridges over the DuPage River at Eagle Street, Washington Street, Jefferson Avenue and Main Street. All were reopened by 1:30 p.m. Friday but officials were already analyzing feedback.

Early analysis, LaCloche said, shows the city likely closed the Washington Street Bridge too early -- about 6 p.m. Thursday -- causing long backups.

"We closed it too early and had to reopen and then re-close it later," she said. "Looking back, we probably should have left it open. We're just looking out for everyone's safety and trying to make the best decisions for everyone."

LaCloche also credited the city's public safety dispatchers for handling previously unseen high call volumes.

Public safety dispatchers answered 689 911 calls between 3 p.m. Wednesday and 2 p.m. Friday, They also took 1,700 nonemergency calls in the same time frame. City dispatchers took 2,658 public works and broken sump pump-related calls.

Elsewhere in the city, Naperville Unit District 203 canceled classes early Friday due to impassable bus routes. North Central College also canceled classes. Its athletic field was completely underwater.

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