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Lightning Strike 'Exposed Shortcomings' of Village Emergency Response

Jul 21, 2015 08:46PM ● Published by Steven Jack

A lightning strike on the morning of July 13 caused a downed power line and pavement fire near the Washington Street bridge.

A lightning strike that knocked down a power line and caused a pavement fire near the Washington Street bridge last week exposed weaknesses in the village’s emergency response plans. 

Jennifer Hughes, the village’s public works director, said the downed line caused a four-hour power outage at Village Hall that hampered vital village communications and operations. 

“In the peak of the emergency we couldn’t get information in or out of Village Hall,” Hughes said. “… I think this really exposed the short comings of our emergency response plans.”

Hughes called for the purchase of an emergency backup power generator for Village Hall that could keep the power on in prolonged outages. She estimated the cost at up to $300,000.

In addition to the power outage caused by the July 13 storm, Hughes said the lighting strike also fried the electronics of the stop light at Routes 34 and 31. The light was out of operation for many hours and caused traffic backups throughout the downtown.  

Hughes said replacing the electronics that operate the light will cost the village another several thousand dollars. 

Route 34 pavement buckling

Last week was a busy one for public works issues in the village. Extreme heat caused buckling pavement along westbound Route 34 near Kendall Pointe Drive on Friday during rush hour, causing lane closures and massive traffic delays. 

The pavement was temporarily fixed by the Illinois Department of Transportation Friday afternoon, but Hughes said it could be a bumpy ride along that stretch of road for quite some time thanks to the state's budget impasse.

“I have spoken with IDOT and they’ve told me that there won’t be a permanent fix until they get a permanent budget (from the state legislature.)”

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