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Local citizens step up to help during severe weather

Neighbors came together Monday night at Spruce and Jackson streets in Morris to help clear the roadways after storms caused widespread damage.
Neighbors came together Monday night at Spruce and Jackson streets in Morris to help clear the roadways after storms caused widespread damage.

MORRIS – With only one week left in his position as Grundy County Housing Authority Resident Council president, Dennis Komnick was able to help his fellow residents in a big way.

The definition of hero can be debated, but for Grundy County Housing Authority CEO Brent Newman, Komnick fits the description.

Komnick, a resident of Saratoga Tower, spent Monday night – all night – taking care of residents who require oxygen on a continuous basis.

“I checked the weather and listened to the scanner, and I was aware of what was going on,” Komnick said. “I realized we were going to be without power for a while.”

Severe weather hit Morris on Monday night with a pair of storms that had winds faster than 80 mph, causing trees and power lines to fall throughout the city and Grundy County. That left 85 to 90 percent of Morris without power Monday – including Saratoga Tower, an apartment complex for senior citizens.

After hearing the reports, Komnick walked the stairs to each floor of the tower, checking on residents who were utilizing oxygen to make sure they were on portable tanks that don’t require electricity to deliver it.

“He’s a wonderful person,” said Claudine Thomas, a resident Komnick helped. “I’ve never seen anything like it. He was up all night long.”

Switching the residents to the portable tanks was one thing, but the tanks do not hold enough oxygen to get them through the entire night, so Komnick continued going back to each of the eight residences and changing the tanks until 4 a.m.

“By 4 a.m. I figured most of them were going to be up within the time they had on the tanks, so I got some rest,” he said.

But rest didn’t last long: At 8 a.m. he was up and checking on them again.

“I was concerned if they were asleep they wouldn’t know the oxygen wasn’t working,” he said. “I’m not a hero. A hero is somebody that does something really miraculous.”

Newman said he is comforted knowing residents like Komnick are there looking out for others.

“It did not surprise me one bit,” Newman said. “Our past history with Dennis is that he is continuously stepping up to help in any way he can; he is an extraordinary person.”

Komnick wasn’t the only person in Morris up in the middle of the night looking out for his neighbors.

Three 16-year-old young men, Trevor Matthews, Andrew Eichhorst and Dean Nicholson, were on Spruce Street in the pouring rain trying to clear large branches from the street.

They said they just like to help others, and wanted to be able to help as many as they could.

Dave Knoblich, who lives at the corner of Spruce and Jackson streets where the boys were helping clear the street, said helping others is the neighborly thing to do.

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