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Forreston ‘ahead of the curve’ in recovery

‘We rolled up our sleeves and got it done’

Forreston Village President Mark Metzger believes the village is in a good spot in recovery efforts from the Aug. 10 wind storm that included winds over 100 miles per hour that damaged trees and electrical wires over 48 blocks and damaged structures within 13 blocks.

“The good news is, it all started with the sheriff calling in the emergency team on Monday when the storm was still going through,” Metzger said. “That put us ahead of the curve with the whole plan. We also have volunteers pitching in.”

Forreston is still doing tree trimming, which is being done by a local company. There are still hanging branches and damaged trees that need to come down. Metzger believes brush will be picked up for the next month.

Forreston Public Works Director Mark Rust is on medical leave, but part-time workers have been “stepping up” in his absence. State and county trucks have come to take debris to the quarry on Pit Road.

“The state is going to furnish a burn curtain,” Metzger said. “It’s a big oven with little to no smoke that needs to burn for at least five days. It burns something like 200 kilotons a day. We have over 1,000 and we qualify. All debris will be burned up, and that’s free of charge.”

Metzger said buildings are still being reviewed for structural damage and the village is still working on insurance and repair issues. 

The village contacted its insurance company for the first time Monday. Metzger thinks he’ll have a better idea of the price of the damage in 2-3 weeks. 

“We saved with the state and county vehicles hauling stuff,” Metzger said. “In the big picture, it’s still a big price tag but it’s been cut in half of what it should have been.”

The majority of residents had power restored by the evening of Aug. 13. Some “pockets” of the village had issues and it took until the weekend. Candlelight Trailer Park, which was hit worst by the storm, is still without power. 

Land and trailer owners were contacted and six trailers deemed not livable were removed. There were 13 lots in the park and two were empty. There are 3-4 livable trailers left and the village is working on a plan to restore water, gas and power to them. Metzger believes that could take two weeks.

As far as displaced residents, a shelter was offered but not utilized. Residents went to live with family and friends.

“Some of the people, one was an old lady who moved in with her daughter in Arkansas,” Metzger said. “Another went to live with family in Freeport. People are finding places. If they’re having trouble or need help, please contact us.”

The village postponed its Aug. 17 board meeting to Aug. 24 due to the storm. Metzger thinks a good part of that meeting will be used to work on bills from the storm and starting projects like a possible fundraiser.

Metzger believes most village businesses are up and running again. Moring Disposal had its building damaged but work has continued. The BP station is currently closed after it had its air conditioning and heating unit ripped off its roof.

The village did not qualify for federal assistance due to the storm. To qualify, at least 25 structures have to be damaged. Metzger said engineers said Forreston had 15. 

Metzger has appreciated the help from individuals and large and small entities. 

“If this was a boxing match, we took a shot and tumbled,” Metzger said. “But we continued to fight and pulled out a victory. Because of where we’re at. The county and state helped. We got 4-5 days ahead of the curve and they were impressed. 

“Nobody has seen something like this here. People have lived here 40-50 years. Residents said so. We rolled up our sleeves and got it done.”

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