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The flood: Working together in a crisis

Published: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 5:19 p.m. CDT
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(Photo provided)
Riverside Chief of Police Tom Weitzel.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks.

If you live in Riverside – or almost really anywhere in the west suburban area – you were affected in one way or another by the flooding.

Some in the village suffered extensive damage due to flooding. Throughout the process, village officials, staff, and emergency responders who may have had major flooding in their own homes, worked around the clock to serve the residents of Riverside. 

From a police chief’s perspective, let me tell you what I personally observed.  I put my entire department on 12-hour shifts, and all days off and vacations were canceled so that we could serve the residents. So did many other village departments. When the flooding started, Fire Chief Spencer Kimura initiated an emergency operation center at Village Hall and the entire village staff met so that we could coordinate a response.  When we held an emergency operation center planning meeting, we met with Riverside Brookfield High School Superintendent Kevin Skinkus and his staff to set up an early dismissal plan for Riverside Brookfield High School students and staff.  The school had become surrounded by water on three sides, and by noon the plan was executed with the assistance of the Brookfield Police Department and the Brookfield Zoo Police Department.

I can’t express my gratitude enough to the residents, students and business community in Riverside.  As I walked the flooding area with my staff, several residents stopped me on the street and wanted to know what they could do to help in the flooding situation.  High school students and grade school students worked to assist in sandbagging and other flood mitigation related duties. These students were not asked.  They volunteered and came out and just started to work. Village Manager Peter Scalara personally delivered sandbags to many residents in the flooded zones by transporting sandbags from the parking lot at the Village Hall to the flood zones on Forest, West, Groveland and Lincoln.

As police chief, I was extremely proud of my police officers’ service. Several residents stopped by the police station to leave food for our officers who were working 12-hour shifts.  For that, I am truly grateful.

All of these people make Riverside a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family.

Tom Weitzel is chief of police for the village of Riverside

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