Now that was a storm.

Last Thursday’s wind and rain extravaganza had its heart-pounding moments and its chattering aftermath as locals described   a destructive path with a “where were you” intensity most often reserved for major calamitous events.

Looking back – across tree-strewn streets and powerless homes and businesses – we are left to assess the response to this weather emergency. And that assessment is positive. In Oak Park and River Forest, our municipal forces turned out en masse, followed well-coordinated plans, and demonstrated a level of communication that was impressive.

Police, fire and public works crews did a good job of setting priorities with downed electric, blocked streets and attention to key public buildings taking pre-eminence. Officials in both towns tell stories of smooth communication and well-practiced emergency habits. None of that counts for much though until the staff members on the ground make that extra effort to solve problems and put residents first. There were numerous examples of that taking place. We are grateful.

About Mills Tower
Among the heroic and touching efforts following the storm was the coordinated effort to meet the needs of 200-plus seniors in the vertical community of Mills Park Tower. Without power for 24-plus hours in a 19-story elevator building, Mills Park Tower officials and residents came through for each other. From knocking on every door and making a connection with every resident to paramedics working quickly to move medically-challenged residents, it was an impressive effort.

We do wonder how such a large and essential senior building as Mills Tower did not move more quickly up Com Ed’s work list. And we wonder about the need for additional back-up generators at the site. Those issues need further discussion.

Donut-less Saturday
Everything seemed to be getting back to normal in Oak Park by Saturday morning – everything except the Farmers’ Market donuts.

With Pilgrim Church, the host for this weekly confection-cum-fundraiser still without power, there was no electricity to run the operation that results in the luscious dough, nor power to heat the grease necessary to give each circle its crunchy perfection.

We’re happy to report that Oak Parkers made do with stinkin’ sweet corn and another week of fresh picked blueberries.

One less pound gained. One less artery clogged irreparably. At least until next week.

Recycling in the parks
We’re guilty. We’ve absently polluted the recycling effort in Oak Park parks by tossing our Tasty Dog refuse in with the paper recycling. Obviously we are not alone – because it turns out that even though the local parks have separate bins that suggest that recycling takes place, all the waste is winding up in a single landfill. One truck hauls away both the garbage and the contaminated recycling.

The park district says it has good intentions and, of that, we have no doubt. But, says Mike Grandy, the parks’ building and grounds supervisor, the reality is that contaminated recycled goods have no value and his staff doesn’t have the time, or we presume, the inclination, to painstakingly sort the wheat from the chaff.

That said, we’d like to see consideration given to a fresh look at how a town as intent on recycling can make it work in our parks. We don’t have the solution, but we have confidence that there is one. Waste Management’s spokesperson expressed interest in creating an education program for the parks. Karen Rozmus, the village’s recycling champion, would likely join the discussion.

The park district has lots on its plate. But making recycling work is a worthy target.

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