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Free Press Newspapers | Wilmington, IL

home : free press advocate : free press advocate November 24, 2015

7/8/2014 9:30:00 PM
City powered up, cutting up
NICK HANSEN stands by as a city backhoe picks up a load of brush on Canal Street Monday. The city crew is working its way through town, cleaning up storm debris.
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NICK HANSEN stands by as a city backhoe picks up a load of brush on Canal Street Monday. The city crew is working its way through town, cleaning up storm debris.
It seemed that every other house had a generator, and there were plenty of chainsaws to go around after last week's double derecho, the twin storm systems characterized by powerful straightline winds that hit here just after 10 p.m. on Monday, June 30.

The highly-prized vegetation of this rural community was its downfall, as tree limbs and branches hung up in the grid took out power. The debris had to be removed before power was restored. That happened for downtown Wilmington on Tuesday, about 14 hours after the power went out, but ComEd's restore estimates just kept getting moved later and later for the rest of the community.

Late on the second day of darkness, Wednesday, Mayor Marty Orr visited ComEd's Joint Operations Command (JOC) at the Will County Emergency Management Agency in Joliet seeking additional assistance; more tree crews, and more electrical crews.

Every municipality has a point person to which they communicate their initial assessment of loss of power. Orr said in this instance, the assessment was easy, the whole town was impacted, and most importantly, the water and sewer systems, fire and emergency services were all running on generator power.

However, ComEd tried to improve its system of communication by developing a JOC. For this small town, that action created a disconnect in communication. Orr said the information coming to the city from its ComEd external affairs manager was "not what was happening here on the ground." So the mayor went to the JOC.

"It was a widespread disaster, a lot of communities were impacted, but that doesn't make Wilmington any less important in any case," he said.

Orr's visit to the JOC produced results. Read the rest of the story in the Wednesday, July 9, 2014 print and online editions of The Free Press Advocate.

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