Team Rubicon volunteers assist with post-tornado cleanup in DuPage County

  • The nonprofit Team Rubicon Disaster Response deployed teams of volunteers to help remove fallen trees in DuPage County in the days following the June 20 tornado.

    The nonprofit Team Rubicon Disaster Response deployed teams of volunteers to help remove fallen trees in DuPage County in the days following the June 20 tornado. Courtesy of Matt Mateiescu/Team Rubicon

  • Team Rubicon Disaster Response volunteers helped remove fallen trees from residential properties in DuPage County after the June 20 tornado. During the cleanup, the volunteers set up their temporary headquarters at Hinsdale South High School in Darien.

    Team Rubicon Disaster Response volunteers helped remove fallen trees from residential properties in DuPage County after the June 20 tornado. During the cleanup, the volunteers set up their temporary headquarters at Hinsdale South High School in Darien. Courtesy of Matt Mateiescu/Team Rubicon

  • Volunteers with Team Rubicon Disaster Response are known as "Greyshirts." Up to 28 of them showed up to help remove fallen trees in DuPage County.

    Volunteers with Team Rubicon Disaster Response are known as "Greyshirts." Up to 28 of them showed up to help remove fallen trees in DuPage County. Courtesy of Matt Mateiescu/Team Rubicon

 
 
Updated 6/30/2021 5:37 PM

Less than a week after a tornado ripped through parts of DuPage County, the removal of damaged trees is nearly complete.

One of the organizations that helped is Team Rubicon Disaster Response.

 

"Team Rubicon volunteers have been an enormous help in our response and recovery," Downers Grove Township Supervisor Paul Coultrap said in a statement. "They've been boots on the ground, working as experienced disaster recovery specialists. They are wonderful partners, and we wouldn't be as far along in the recovery without them."

The Los Angeles-based nonprofit was founded in 2010 after a massive earthquake in Haiti. Team Rubicon regularly deploys volunteer military veterans and retired first responders to assist in the aftermath of natural disasters, including floods, wildfires, hurricanes and tornadoes.

"After a traumatic weather event, we often come in to help people after their worst day and try to get them on the road to recovery," said Team Rubicon task force leader James Young of Ogden, Utah.

Team Rubicon Disaster Response volunteers helped remove fallen trees from residential properties after the June 20 tornado that ripped through parts of DuPage County. Many of the volunteers are U.S. military veterans or former first responders.
Team Rubicon Disaster Response volunteers helped remove fallen trees from residential properties after the June 20 tornado that ripped through parts of DuPage County. Many of the volunteers are U.S. military veterans or former first responders. - Courtesy of Matt Mateiescu/Team Rubicon
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Team Rubicon previously assisted in cleanup efforts following severe flooding in Lake County in 2017. This time, Team Rubicon got permission from DuPage to send teams of volunteers to Naperville, Woodridge, Darien and Burr Ridge to remove trees damaged by the June 20 tornado.

There was a need because most municipalities only remove fallen trees and debris from roads, sidewalks and parkways. Team Rubicon "Greyshirts" (a term the volunteers use due to their gray T-shirt uniforms) helped remove debris from private properties at no cost.

Young, a retired police sergeant, was tasked by the Chicago office of Team Rubicon to coordinate work for the volunteers. He also arranged for temporary shelter for them.

Young says he was especially grateful for the help of Burr Ridge Public Works Director David Preissig, who worked with Hinsdale High School District 86 to arrange for Team Rubicon volunteers to be housed at Hinsdale South High School starting on June 23.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The group needed a facility with restrooms, showers and a place to set up their cots," Preissig said.

Up to 28 Team Rubicon volunteers -- many from the Chicago area and Illinois -- responded to help out, according to Young. Volunteers also came from Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.

By the end of the day on Monday, Team Rubicon members had completed more than 1,300 hours of community service in DuPage. Team Rubicon plans to finish up its work in DuPage as early as Thursday.

"We just want to help people," Young said. "The satisfaction or gratification we get is when a homeowner says, 'Thank you. I didn't know what to do.'"

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