Storms that tore through the western suburbs, the afternoon of May 31, left their mark on multiple locations in Forest Park with high winds causing the most damage. However, no injuries were reported.
The roof was partially torn off a 24-unit apartment building at 320 Desplaines Ave. and wind damage also was reported at Ultra Foods, 7520 Roosevelt Road, and Forest Park Plaza, 7600 Roosevelt Road. In addition, cemeteries in the village reportedly suffered flooding and downed trees and the Forest Park Public Works crews were kept busy removing downed trees and branches on streets around the village.
“We had everybody out,” said Tim Gillian, village administrator. He said public works crews were still in cleanup mode Friday, removing branches, chipping larger tree limbs and helping clean up yards.
Gillian also noted that the timing of the storm could have been worse. Because it occurred on a weekday afternoon, “a lot of resources were here,” he said.
Patricia Kemp of the Red Cross said her organization had established a reception center at the Forest Park Community Center, 7640 Jackson Blvd., to assist 10 families displaced from 320 Desplaines Ave. Kemp, communications manager for the Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois, said 20 workers from her organization assisted over 300 people in Forest Park and Willowbrook, where the roof was blown off a larger apartment complex.
Ultra Foods was closed and evacuated after officials feared that rooftop heating/air-conditioning units that had been torn loose might have damaged a gas line and caused a leak. According to Chris Bengston, vice president of public relations and community affairs for Ultra Foods, no leak was found and the store was reopened around 7 p.m. after 2½ hours.
Bengston said “cosmetically the biggest hit” was the awnings in front of the building.
“We lost two but it looked worse than it really was,” he said, noting that a satellite dish was torn off by high winds, and the rooftop air-conditioning units “took a beating.” The building also suffered “relatively minor” roof damage, he added.
Twelve cars in the parking lot were damaged by flying debris, according to Gillian.
Bengston said company and store officials were appreciative that no customers or employees were injured.
Gillian said fire department and police department personnel were on the scene at Ultra Foods “immediately.” He described the scene as “chaotic.”
Village officials also dispatched one of the Community Center buses to Ultra Foods to transport to the Blue Line station customers whose cars were damaged and those who otherwise would have had to wait for a bus in the rain.
At Forest Park Plaza, the roof and rooftop air-conditioning units suffered the bulk of the damage, according to Kim Clay, director of communications.
Gillian said the high winds caused windows and skylights at Forest Park Plaza to break, allowing the rain to come in.
Clay said damage was primarily to the roof on the southeast side the building, over the children’s church and a storage area. Employees were sent home early, she said, adding that officials there were “very grateful” nobody was injured. Gillian said all locations in the Forest Park Plaza had reopened by Friday.
David Penziel, director of operations at Waldheim Jewish Cemetery, 1400 Desplaines Avenue, said “about eight big trees” came down in the storm with a couple of monuments “impacted” by falling trees. He said the tree damage was not widespread. Instead, all damage was “confined to a narrow corridor” on the cemetery grounds.
Penziel said the tree service they employ was at the cemetery the following morning to start removing the downed trees. He, too, was thankful that no employees or visitors were injured.