I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the citizens of Oak Park for their help in response to the severe weather the community recently endured. Neighbor helping neighbor is critical in times of adversity and this weather event magnificently illustrated the sense of community that is so much a part of the character of Oak Park.

The unexpected fury of the storms that rolled through the village that afternoon and evening brought down trees and power lines and blocked many major roadways, alleys and sidewalks. Many homes and businesses were without power, and in some instances, had no access to their property or vehicles. While village employees from the Public Works, Police and Fire departments necessarily focused first on opening major roadways, cordoning off areas where live power lines had fallen and guiding traffic through intersections where signals had failed, many private citizens were busy helping each other clear storm debris from sidewalks, alleys and streets. Still others shared electricity with their neighbors who had lost power.

By the time the sun rose, the morning following the storms, evidence of the devastation was clearly visible. But so were the results of the hard work of village crews and so many citizens in the hours before. The majority of streets and alleys were open, brush and debris was piled neatly along curbs and on parkways, and a sense of normalcy had returned to the community. Of course, much remained to be done. However, thanks to the active participation of citizens, the clean-up was well underway. And for that, we at village hall are appreciative.

Geographically, Oak Park is rather small–just 4 1/2 square miles. But within this small municipal footprint lies a complex network of roadways and sidewalks, streetlights and traffic signals, alleys and power lines, all flowing through an urban forest of the first order. Severe weather events demonstrate just how vulnerable public services can be. But these events also demonstrate how a community, working together, can overcome any obstacle.

Again, thank you to the citizens of Oak Park. We could not have done this without your active participation.

P.S.: Although hit hard, our recently implemented four-year tree trimming policy resulted in less damage and fewer power outages than might have been expected from a storm of last week’s magnitude, given the age and size of our great canopy.

Tom Barwin
Village manager

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