DIAMOND – Diamond homeowner Lori Bonarek worries about people dumping unwanted trash into the dumpster sitting outside her tornado-damaged home.
“We haven’t been there but when we got back people had used our dumpster, and it was half full,” Bonarek said. “Well, we have to pay for that.”
Bonarek’s concern was one of a handful raised at a community meeting held Wednesday night in Diamond. Tornado victims and their contractors were encouraged to bring questions and concerns to the meeting, which was meant to provide detailed information about the rebuilding process.
Only about 20 of the roughly 225 tornado victims attended.
“I’m just sorry that we didn’t have at least 100 more people here,” Diamond Mayor Terry Kernc said. “This is a poor showing. I hope it means that everyone else is 100 percent ready, but I doubt that is the case.”
Those in attendance were provided information and answers by a panel of experts comprised of Kernc, Joliet attorney John Gallo, Diamond building inspector Tom Pahnke, Will County Plan Reviewer Owen Needham, Will County Chief Building Inspector Raymond Semplinski and Diamond Planning and Zoning secretary Cindy Haywood.
One reoccurring concern brought up by residents and Kernc, was the amount of traffic and unfamiliar vehicles traveling in and out of the damaged neighborhoods.
“Before, we knew who the strangers were in the subdivision, but now we don’t know who they are anymore,” Bonarek said.
Some residents are worried about looting or dumping unwanted garbage in their neighborhoods.
Kernc said the village has issued “registration certificates” for all contractors to display in the vehicle’s windshields, so residents can distinguish which vehicles are allowed in the neighborhood.
Much of the information provided centered on following building codes, obtaining the right zoning permits and making sure contractors are following the law.
Kernc reminded the group that permits are required, but the village has waived permit fees for tornado victims. Residents will have to pay the out of pocket costs for plan reviews and inspections.
“The village has been marvelous as far as working with the residents and trying to keep this process going,” Semplinski said. “Really to make sure you all are getting back in your homes as soon as possible.”
When construction commences this spring and summer, Kernc said residents need to be prepared for very hectic traffic and noise.
The garbage provider has asked residents to put garbage out the night before pick up so they can access the garbage early.
“We are going to be extremely congested in these areas this summer and into the fall,” Kernc said.
Many residents, including some elderly tornado victims, will need assistance cleaning up their yards and removing leftover buried by snow.
Kernc said the village plans on organizing another volunteer day to help with remaining clean up.
Some homeowners requested waivers be drafted so that homeowners will not be left liable if a volunteer injures themself while cleaning up debris. Kernc said the village plans to have waivers ready to ensure volunteers are at least 18 and will not sue the homeowner if injured while volunteering.