After being bushwhacked by three violent storms in little more than a month, Wilmette residents can look forward to their streets and parkways being cleaned up — but it’s going to take a little time, and village officials are pleading for some patience.
When the skies opened and dumped a record amount of rain on the village July 22 and 23, as well as topping some trees, Wilmette Public Works crews and contractors were still cleaning up after a July 11 wind storm that took out even more trees and caused widespread power outages, Village Manager Timothy Frenzer said. And that storm had itself been preceded by one on June 21, which also caused power outages and blew down trees.
“We’re apparently into a summer of almost continuous storm activity, almost unlike anything we’ve seen in recent memory,” Frenzer told trustees at the July 26 Village Board meeting. “And this is the third meeting in a row where I’ve had to report the results of those storms.
“We’re still in the process of cleaning up tree debris from both earlier storms, and the one this past weekend. That means that cleanup is going to take several weeks. But please be assured we’re doing our best.”
The July 22-23 deluge poured record amounts of rain over the general Chicago area, Frenzer told trustees.
Measurements on the west side of town indicated that 5.5 inches of rain on July 22 and 23, more than 4 inches of it between 12 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. July 23, he said. Measurements taken at the pumping station on the east side of town, at Lake and Michigan Avenues, saw about 4.41 inches of rain by the end of July 23, more than 3 inches of it coming down between 12 a.m. and 2:30 a.m.
“In any event, rainfall rates of two inches an hour are typically related to tropical storms,” Frenzer noted.
Electrical outages generated by the latest storm took out fewer Wilmette customers than did the earlier events — 170 compared to the roughly 1,200 households without power after the June 21st storm, and more than 7,000 hit by the July 11 storm, but some of those were out until July 25.
The torrential rains did have a negative impact, Frenzer said: “We know many residents suffered from basement flooding.”
He reminded residents that many streets across the village are designed to hold water after heavy rainfall, allowing it to drain slowly, rather than quickly, into storm sewers in order to minimize possible flooding. The ponded streets did eventually drain, he said.
Although the pumping station in west Wilmette ran at full capacity without interruption to handle storm sewer water, west of Ridge Road, output in the separate sanitary sewers on that side of town may have been affected by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s storm interceptor surcharge, he said.
Residents east of Ridge Road have combined sanitary and storm sewers, and the area was affected after the district had to open its Wilmette locks to handle flooding surcharges.
“We closely monitor the outflow of raw sewage,” Frenzer assured listeners, but the village’s water supply wasn’t affected by any of the flooding problems.
In order to handle the massive cleanup, the village has hired additional contractors, and Veolia Environmental Services, which handles Wilmette’s solid waste pickups, will be able to pick up storm debris, he said.
“Items should be placed next to refuse toters,” he said. “Veolia will do its best to make regular pickups, then circle back to pick up storm debris. If we need more service, we’ll contract for more of it from Veolia,” he said.
For more information on Wilmette’s refuse collection program, access the Public Works Department page at the village’s website, wilmette.com/departments/public_works