We’re getting tired of “acts of God.” How about you?
On the other hand, we don’t see a better explanation for this summer of flooding. Forest Park, Forest Parkers and their basements got walloped again last weekend – second time in a month – when astounding amounts of rain fell in a very short time.
While we are sympathetic to residents who suffered damage, we’d ask people to back down from the multiple theories of incompetence and intrigue that suggest that “the valves were closed,” that sewers were poorly installed, that maintenance has been lax. The reality is that no stormwater system can be designed to handle the inundation of last Friday night and Saturday morning. Seven to eight inches of water in seven to eight hours. It cannot be absorbed. It cannot be drained. There is no place for it to go except streets, yards and basements. As Commissioner Mark Hosty succinctly told a packed house at the village council Monday night, “Our basements become the reservoirs.” And since he had 10 inches of water in his “reservoir,” Hosty had the credibility to make that statement.
Overall, we are impressed by the village’s response in the storm’s aftermath. The declaration of a “disaster area” came on Saturday, two days before it did in neighboring Oak Park. Emergency phone and text messages went out to residents on Saturday and Sunday to advise about added services and to caution them to think critically about anyone soliciting cleanup services. The added and free garbage hauling, the presence at Monday’s meeting of the village engineer and a representative from FEMA – all this tells us the village was doing what it could to respond to a mess it couldn’t control.
Mayor Anthony Calderone, who has a tendency to get defensive, did so well in acknowledging a minor ethical infraction by a village staffer in the storm’s wake. Calderone frankly declared that the employee “got spanked for it.” Enough said.
The mayor and the village council were wise to up-end the usual council meeting protocols Monday night. They did a good job of presenting useful information and, more importantly, they did a good job of listening to the real frustrations of citizens. The tales of lost Christmas ornaments; of appliances, sometimes freshly replaced appliances, ruined in the flood; of homes substantially damaged by rampant water pressing up and through foundations – these are all stories that need to be told and heard.
It wasn’t the village’s job to fix each of these woes, but it says good things about village government that officials listened. We also always admire the village’s message to seniors that help is just a call away if they can’t haul or clean the mess themselves. That’s what community spirit in a town is all about.
August is here. Let’s hope the warm sun will dry out our town and that similar “acts of God” will pass us by.