St. Charles Answers the Call of a Community in Need

By Jeremy Craft, Public Services Division Manager, jcraft@stcharlesil.gov

On Wednesday, March 1, 2017, the City of Ottawa issued a request for mutual aid through the “IPWMAN” (Illinois Public Works Mutual Aid Network). They were looking to recruit a minimum of six public works agencies to assist with the recovery from an EF-3 tornado that decimated parts of Ottawa and the Village of Naplate on the evening of February 28. There were two fatalities and 14 people injured from the storm. A Chicago Tribune article on the storm is here http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-illinois-tornado-ottawa-0302-20170301-story.html

Shortly after the mutual aid request from IPWMAN was received, the City of St. Charles’ Public Works management team began coordinating with IPWMAN and arranging to dispatch a forestry crew to assist with clearing tree debris from Ottawa/Naplate roadways and city parkways.  St. Charles Public Works assembled a four man crew who committed to a two-day clean-up effort.  The crew consisted of Public Services Division Manager Jeremy Craft, Crew Leader Alan Kane, Operator Mike Mittman, and Laborer Jeff Woods.

Upon arrival at the Ottawa Public Works Garage on Thursday, March 2, 2017, at approximately 6:30 a.m., the St. Charles crew was met by several other agencies including: Oswego Public Works, Aurora Public Works and DeKalb Public Works. Each agency was kindly greeted by Ottawa Personnel, tempted with an array of donuts, and thanked for volunteering their time and intentions. Each group received their assignments and the area of town where they would be focusing their relief strategies. With the utilization of our forestry aerial lift and chipper truck, the St. Charles team was tasked with removing damaged and hazardous trees from the parkways and clearing brush from city streets.

The St. Charles team worked a total of 20 hours on Thursday and Friday, March 2 & 3, successfully removing several dangerous trees and chipping brush on multiple city blocks.  It was an impactful individual effort that contributed to an even greater team effort.  Each agency played a critical role and displayed an amazing amount of pride, fortitude, and compassion.  To personally observe public works departments from around the state come together in support of these towns torn apart by this tragedy was something special that I will always cherish being a part of.  The people of Ottawa and Naplate were extremely grateful and treated everyone in a first class way!  I have no doubt these communities will rebound from this event and rebuild an even stronger community.

Pictures of the crew in action are here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/stcharlesil/albums/72157681548821386