'Fingers crossed,' DuPage towns clean up
Municipal officials across DuPage County reported significant progress Tuesday in cleaning up the aftermath of Sunday's storm but said it could be weeks before everything is back to normal.
"We're keeping our fingers crossed that the storms and this heat spell don't create another problem," Addison Mayor Larry Hartwig said.
For many towns, the focus has been on clearing debris from roads and other public areas, and taking down dangling and potentially dangerous tree limbs. The next step is to gather brush piled along residential streets.
In Lombard, crews have been working since Monday to clean up Madison Meadow Park, where the annual Taste of Lombard was scheduled to kick off Tuesday evening. Public Works Director Carl Goldsmith said the village got help from other suburban communities through a mutual aid network at no additional cost.
Goldsmith said crews have been collecting brush on the northwest side of town and plan to branch out over the next week or two.
"This is going to be a long process for us," he said. "Residents have to be understanding. This work is especially difficult given the weather."
In Addison, Hartwig said one bright spot was the timing of the storm's arrival, which coincided with the village's monthly brush pickup cycle. As a result, the village had both its own crews and its regular debris-collecting contractor in the field.
"We have the contractor starting at one end of town, and our crews starting at the other. We think we've got it under control," Hartwig said.
He warned, however, that debris pickup could take longer than usual because of extensive damage — particularly along Diversey Avenue — but locals should still do their best to get limbs and brush to their curbs quickly. "Once we've done your street," he said, "it's going to be next month before we come back again."
Villa Park Village Manager Rich Keehner said residents along Ardmore Avenue should wait until after Wednesday's July 4 parade to put more debris at the curb. Crews working 10-hour shifts already have made one pass of the thoroughfare but plan to return after the festivities.
The village received assistance from Lisle, Downers Grove and Oak Brook, which are helping pick up and chip debris. Keehner said there are about 100 trees that must be removed because they are either badly damaged or have fallen. He estimated the total clean up would take a month.
"We have two crews on the north side of town and two crews on the south chipping away," Keehner said. "You can tell they are hot and tired but they appreciate everybody telling them thanks and that they're doing a good job."
Villa Park also has set up a trash bin at 51 S. Ardmore Ave. where locals can dump spoiled food, he said.
In Carol Stream, the village was nearly finished tackling hanging limbs and felled trees. Storm-related brush pickup begins at 7 a.m. Friday, with crews working through the weekend.
Public Works Director Phil Modaff said, if possible, residents should cut limbs to 8 feet or less and place the cut end at the curb. He expects pickup to take a couple of weeks, as the "piles are growing exponentially."
"The biggest message is, once we're down your street we are not coming back," he said. "Otherwise, it's a summer-long effort."
Vince Laoang, public works director for Wheaton, said crews will begin collecting debris Thursday, working from the northeast corner of town to the southwest.
The city also is working with ComEd to open several collector streets and primary roads that are partially closed because of downed power lines. Laoang and several other officials said they're unable to address such situations safely until ComEd fixes the electrical lines.
"We can't emphasize enough to stay away from the power lines," he said. "You don't know if ComEd is going to turn them on and test them, so it can be a very dangerous situation."
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