Storm cleanup, power outages expected to drag on into the holiday weekend

By Chicago 7 Min Read

CAMPAIGN – Cleanup and repairs from storm damage are expected to continue into the weekend for the hardest-hit local communities.

And with widespread area-wide power outages continuing on Friday, it wasn’t yet known how soon affected services and businesses would be able to reopen.

“It’s probably the biggest event, the biggest natural disaster that we’ve had,” assistant St. Joseph public works director Luke Fisher said Friday of Thursday’s severe storm.

The downed trees and other damage in St. Joseph’s were so widespread that the city sought assistance from the Public Works Mutual Aid Network. But nearby communities were also affected by the storm.

A major problem impacting St. Joseph and elsewhere was the constant outages.

Three of St. Joseph’s four Sanitary Service lift stations were without power on Friday, and public works was bringing generators to each one.

Public works crews in Champaign and Urbana continued to deal with downed street trees and malfunctioning traffic lights on Friday, and work was expected to continue into the weekend.

“We continue to get inundated with calls from all over the city,” Champaign Public Works spokesman Kris Koester said Friday.

Champaign Public Works required residents to call only for urgent situations, such as blocked streets or street signs outside. For non-urgent matters, please email [email protected].

Urbana had four public works crews out Friday, three of which were working in priority areas in the central and southern parts of the city where there was a lot of damage to mature trees, public works director Tim Cowan said.

There were still a fair number of power outages and dead lights in Urbana, he said.

Next week Urbana will be offering a special curbside pickup of felled branches and brush. Debris must be set down on the curb by 7am July 5 for collection.

Meanwhile, Willard Airport, which was closed Thursday afternoon due to storm damage and a power outage, resumed normal operations Friday morning.

Airport executive director Tim Bannon said power was restored to the terminal late Thursday night and both airline and airport systems were back online.

Temporary repairs were made to the storm-damaged roof of the terminal, but access to some areas of the terminal was restricted due to the equipment in those areas.

As of the latest Ameren Illinois update on Friday, the utility warned that many customers could expect to be without power through Saturday night, due to the extent of the damage and the number of outages.

“Some customers may restore power sooner and other outages may last longer,” the utility said on Friday afternoon.

The storm cut power to more than 180,000 Ameren Illinois customers through the central portion of the utility’s service area and damaged or destroyed more than 650 poles, the utility said.

More than 2,000 Ameren workers worked on the breaks, and more than 1,000 outside contractor employees from 20 different utility resources were hired to help, according to Ameren.

Elsewhere in the area, Champaign County Forest Preserve offices and Lake of the Woods golf course were closed Friday due to a power outage and storm damage.

Forest reserve staff posted on Facebook that all golf facilities, including the pro shop, would remain closed until further notice and that cleanup was underway.

Ervin Park and the Tuscola swimming pool were closed Friday due to extensive damage and power line outages.

City manager Drew Hoel said a fallen tree blew a hole in the roof of the pool building.

City parks in Danville were also closed Friday, due to large amounts of debris and fallen trees, and city officials said the closures will remain in effect until further notice.

A handful of medical services were also affected on Friday.

Christie Clinic posted that its clinic in Tuscola on Main was still out of power Friday and appointments had been rescheduled.

The Urbana School Health Center was closed Friday through Wednesday due to a power outage at Urbana High School and the OSF Medical Group offices at 707 N. Logan and 800 N. Logan in Danville are closed on Friday, also due to power outages.

ImpactLife said it lost about 70 blood donations from Thursday’s scheduled collections due to storm-related power outages, blood drive cancellations, missed appointments and donor center location closures. Electricity was restored to all locations on Friday, and the blood service hoped to recoup losses on Friday and over the weekend to get supplies up to the levels needed for the Fourth of July holiday.

In St. Joseph, Fisher said the village had been in contact with Ameren and the utility was sending crews from Ohio that were expected to be in the area later Friday.

Village parks were also damaged by tree limbs in Kolb Park and a light pole snapped to the ground at the sports complex on Diamond 3.

Fisher said the diamond would be unusable for a while and before the other diamonds could be used, the lights would need to be tested.

St. Joseph resident Amy McElroy said early on that she didn’t believe the storm would be as bad as expected.

“It seems like they go overboard with storms so much that I’ve become a little immune to them,” she said. “But when I saw it coming, I thought, ‘Oh, this is not going to do.'”

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