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Work Still Remains After Mount Prospect Tornado

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A ComEd truck parked behind a home after storms caused power outages on June 21, 2011.  (Credit: CBS)

A ComEd truck parked behind a home after storms caused power outages on June 21, 2011. (Credit: CBS)

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MOUNT PROSPECT, Ill. (CBS) — Clean-up crews have made a big dent in removing the downed trees, limbs and other debris left behind by last week’s tornado in northwest suburban Mt. Prospect.

But as WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports, the suburb’s public works director said it could take another week for crews to finish the job.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports

Public Works Director Sean Dorsey said that so far, crews have had only one day off since the June 21 tornado, and have worked an average of 12-14 hours each day.

Dorsey said the job is at best half done. But when he draws a comparison with communities such as Joplin, Mo., where there were subdivisions wiped out and people killed, he said Mt. Prospect fares well.

“It’s almost uncanny that a tornado could go through a town as established and as densely populated as we are and literally no one got hurt,” he said.

But that doesn’t make the clean-up job any easier. Dorsey said that crews from Arlington Heights, Cary, Crystal Lake, Elk Grove Village, Hanover Park, Lake Zurich, Northfield Twp., Palatine, Streamwood and Rolling Meadows continue to supplement both Mt. Prospect public works crews and private contractors hired by the village.

Dorsey said it is far too early to calculate the cost of the cleanup, but he said it is easily “into the six figures.”

Dorsey said the first couple of days were the most difficult. The tornado struck about 9 p.m., and he said that by the next morning, major thoroughfares had been cleared of downed trees. Trees down on residential streets were removed by 5 pm. June 22. Restoring power to all homes and businesses, not to mention stop lights, took two additional days.

He said the storm destroyed 300 trees and is requiring the village to prune away dead or dangerous branches from 1,700 other trees.

The clean-up of downed trees and branches is systematic, going from street to street in various sectors of Mt. Prospect.

Dorsey said certain crews remove tree trunks, while some have chippers that turn smaller branches into mulch on the spot. He said larger branches are the target of still other crews. As a result, he said some streets are not cleaned from end to end at once.

Crews are cleaning away anything left at the curb, even if it comes from trees in homeowners’ back yards. He is advising those who have not yet placed branches curbside to do so “as soon as possible.”

The northeastern portion of Mt. Prospect is cleared of debris, but work in the west and northwest section of the suburb will continue into next week.

Dorsey intends to give the crews Saturday and Sunday off, but they will have to work July 4, because of the annual village parade. Debris removal will resume Tuesday, he said.

“We appreciate their patience,” he said. “We understand that stuff has been laying out there for a while. I assure you we’ve been working hard. We’re going to get it all.”

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