COAL CITY – A total of 884 properties were damaged as a result of the EF3 tornado that tore through Coal City late Monday night.
Coal City Village Administrator Matt Fritz said Thursday evening at a news conference that 10 teams, comprised of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Grundy County EMA, blanketed the community for close to five hours Thursday assessing damage.
The assessment concluded that 349 damaged properties are habitable, 375 are habitable with repairs needed, 106 are uninhabitable and 54 are lost completely.
Coal City Mayor Terry Halliday declared the village in a state of civil emergency.
During a special Coal City Village Board meeting Thursday, Halliday said he wants to take an aggressive approach to debris removal after an EF3 tornado packing winds up to 160 mph struck town Monday.
Calling the devastation “incredible,” Halliday said he wanted the board’s opinion on an aggressive approach to cleanup because he didn’t want money to be an issue.
The board voted 6-0 to amend village code granting eight mayoral powers to Halliday in the case of a civil emergency. It allows the mayor to authorize expenditures when necessary.
Halliday said he’ll call a board meeting when a potential expenditure is substantial, but didn’t want to call a meeting for every expense.
Trustee and former mayor Neal Nelson asked if there was an estimate on the total damage cost to the village.
Fritz said EMAs were gathering the number, but he guessed it will be more than $1 million.
Fritz said Coal City has $3 million in credit available, if needed.
He said the village focuses on maintaining a three- to six-month operational budget for situations such as this.
The village made an emergency executive order to impose an amount not to exceed $20,000 per expenditure.
Fritz will be in charge of determining if a board meeting is necessary for an expenditure, and if a meeting would be untimely or impractical and impede the village’s ability to protect the life, health and safety of residents.
Nelson and Halliday expressed their appreciation of help from local and state agencies and volunteers, who are expected in mass numbers Friday morning.
“I started a thank-you list, but I gave up,” Halliday said. “It’s just been so many people that have helped us.”
Halliday said the Coal City High School area of town is starting to look passable, but others remain full of debris.
Halliday wants the village to get as much relief from the state as it can. Coal City won’t qualify for FEMA relief, Halliday said, because there’s an $18.3 million requirement.
“We don’t even have an $18.3 million budget,” Halliday said.
Coal City scheduled a board meeting for 11 a.m. Saturday to award a disaster emergency debris removal contract to the lowest reputable bidder. The board has approved an intergovernmental agreement with Diamond to use Diamond’s emergency debris removal contractor.
Halliday said it’s a stop-gap measure to use until the weekend. The agreement with Diamond is valid until the end of July, if necessary.
Diamond requested a $25,000 security deposit as part of the agreement.
Agencies worked Thursday to clear and secure more neighborhoods. Coal City Police Chief Tom Best confirmed there were minor cases of looting in blocked-off portions of town, and it had been addressed.
Best said a couple suspicious people were removed from zoned-off areas before they were able to steal anything. He estimated one-third of residential Coal City still had a perimeter around it.
“As houses are boarded up and streets become safe, the perimeter will get smaller,” Best said. “We’ve established a strong perimeter with help from other agencies.”
Although rain is expected to continue Friday and for part of the weekend, the National Weather Service said it won’t be too significant. Light to moderate rain is expected by late morning to early afternoon Friday, but the amount of rain is not expected to be too high, said Casey Sullivan of the NWS.
Some areas may receive up to a half-inch, but Saturday is expected to be dry. Sunday will bring back a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon.
The local rivers continue to recede, Sullivan said.
The Illinois River in Morris was observed at 15.8 feet at 2:45 p.m. Flood stage is 16 feet. The river was expected to continue to drop to 12 feet by Sunday afternoon, according to the NWS. The Kankakee River in Wilmington was 6.64 feet at 2:45 p.m., with a flood stage of 6.5 feet. It was expected to slowly lower to about 5 feet by Sunday afternoon.
HOW TO HELP
• Volunteers who want to help clean up can go to Diamond Banquet Hall, 55 S. Daly St., Diamond at 9 a.m. Friday dressed to work, including bringing gloves. Volunteers are encouraged to carpool and will be given safety vests and equipment and will be bused to neighborhoods.
• We Care of Grundy County, 530 Bedford Road, Morris, and Coal City United Methodist Church, 6805 E. McArdle Road, Coal City, are collecting donated items for impacted residents and for the cleanup effort.
• Cash donations are being taken through a disaster fund created by the Community Foundation of Grundy County by visiting www.cfgrundycounty.com/donate-online/, sending checks payable to “CF of Grundy County” with “Disaster Fund” in the memo line, mailed or dropped off to 102 Liberty St., Morris, IL 60450.
• Help for Hope is accepting monetary and item donations. Available at the center, 630 S. Broadway St. in Coal City, are cleaning supplies, food, water and other items.