Natural disasters, sadly, are not unknown in this neck of the woods. While there had always been the occasional cataclysmic flood – rivers are great until they’re running through your streets – it wasn’t until 2008 that the frequency and severity of storm events began to go from rare to routine.
While some may still close their eyes to the impact of climate change, it’s become undeniable that the patterns we’ve experienced not just here but throughout the nation, heck, the planet, aren’t going away.
“It kind of makes you wonder what we’re going to need to do with [forestry] programming,” Riverside Forest Michael Collins told the Landmark in an interview June 20 while he was still in the midst of storm cleanup. “It opens your eyes to the severity of the storms we’re going to be facing.”
We’ve covered some really nasty storms in the years since Growing Community Media purchased the Landmark in 1997. There were floods of various levels of severity in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2019, 2020 and 2021 – the big one being the record flood of 2013.
Mixed in between were a couple of nasty wind storms, including a 2011 storm that caused widespread damage in Brookfield’s north end and toppled the 300-year-old Constitution Oak in Kiwanis Park.
But no one we’ve talked to has been able remember a storm that caused as much damage as the one that whistled through the area on June 13. Its total impact has yet to be calculated, since it’s taken a full week just to manage basic cleanup. The loss in trees and the cost for dealing with the aftermath are sure to be enormous.
While that does not bode well for the future, the way neighbors, strangers, village workers as well as those from other municipalities stepped up in the wake of the storm to clear away the debris, offer a cool place to escape the heat or a freezer to place perishables during power outages or a power strip to charge your phone.
Cook County gets a lot of side glances as a governmental entity, but it sure came through in Riverside and North Riverside, providing personnel and vehicles to help clear away the storm damage. The county’s department of homeland security provided the village with a 10-ton air conditioner so North Riverside could create a cooling center during the worst of last week’s heat.
More than a dozen suburban communities, from as far away as Algonquin, Montgomery and Glen Ellyn, combined to assist cleanup efforts in Brookfield, North Riverside and Riverside.
Local officials have publicly remarked on that generosity and have thanked both residents and those from outside the community for recognizing a catastrophe and rushing to help.
That’s the silver lining, one we hope will recur only rarely.