FLORES

Rockton explosion underscores need for emergency plan

By Jeff Vorva

At 7 a.m. on Monday, a massive chemical fire rocked the Rockford suburb of Rockton as there were explosions at the Chemtool factory that caused mandatory evacuations.

Roughly 12 ½ hours later, Palos Park Police Officer Frank Flores spoke to the village council about the updated 80-page Disaster Preparedness Plan.

It was a coincidence that he spoke on a day in which another northern Illinois town faced a disaster, but it helped give some immediacy to his point of having communities being alert to the possibility of a disaster happening and having a plan and guidelines in place.

“The chemical plant blew up and they had to evacuate over 1,000 residents and it’s not a big town,” he said. “They had to activate schools as a shelter. All of those things are a part of our plan should we happen to have something like that happen in Palos Park.”

He added that some of the potential disasters that could happen include hazardous materials, transportation accidents, weather, major fires and civil disorder. Flores also opened the window wider by saying a disaster in a neighboring community could still have an impact in Palos Park.

“The purpose of this is to have a comprehensive plan that brings all of us together,” he said. “It makes us look at things. It makes us look at the measures that are necessary to preserve life and preserve property so that we can minimize the damage and have a way to bring the town back up to 100 percent, should we have one of these disasters or emergencies.”

He called it a “who does what, when and how” guide with the mayor, police chief, fire chief, public works directors and many others having responsibilities.

The plan breaks down categories such prevention, preparedness, response, mitigation and recovery.

“We need to look at these things and be as prepared as we can,” Flores said. “We sat down and did the planning, which is going to help us deal with what could happen.”

Other business

-The council approved the reappointment of Mary Lou Bareither and Kathy Finan to the Palos Park Library Board of Trustees with a term to expire June 1, 2025.

-It proclaimed June National Safe Boating Month and proclaimed last Monday as Monarch Pledge Day and encouraged residents to participate in community activities that support and celebrate monarch butterfly conservation.

-The council approved an intergovernmental agreement with Palos Heights to pay for paving the Palos Park portion of 123rd Place East of McCarthy Road.

-It also ratified Illinois chapter raffle license and manager bond waiver requests for the Community Association Institute, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana and the True Value Foundation for coming raffles for charity at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club.

-It approved a liquor license for Tavern on La Grange.

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