Big Mac attacks follow destructive derecho

Among the strange sights in the aftermath of the Monday windstorm labeled a derecho were the lines of cars stretching out of fast-food restaurant parking lots and into the streets at certain locations in Joliet and other cities.

Crest Hill Mayor Ray Soliman said he’s never seen anything like the line of cars stretching from the McDonald’s near Route 30 and Larkin Avenue.

“My wife said, ‘What are all those cars?’ I said, ‘I think they’re trying to get into McDonald’s,’ ” Soliman said.

The right lane going west on Route 30 had essentially become a drive-thru lane for McDonald’s.

Then, Soliman noticed the same thing had happened on the other side of the street as cars lined up in the right lane heading east waiting their turn at El Burrito Loco.

“The good thing was that there wasn’t much traffic on the streets,” Soliman said.

People apparently couldn’t wait for cooked meat.

Soliman, too, lost power at his house but opted to grill out for dinner.

Budget impact

Storm recovery will be another big hit on the budgets of cities looking to cut spending because of declining tax revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic recession.

Joliet spent about $300,000 on overtime and related cleanup costs from the May 23 storm that hit the city with heavy winds.

The city’s public works crews were out until 2 a.m. Tuesday clearing streets of trees and cleaning up branch debris after the latest storm hit Monday afternoon.

“We’re working 12-hour days the rest of the week. We plan on working a 10-hour day Saturday,” Public Works Director James Trizna said earlier this week.

Trizna said he expected city crews to clean up tree damage for a few weeks following the clean-up pattern after the May 23 storm, which did most of its damage in the center of town.

“There’s no area hit as hard as the concentrated area last time (on May 23),” he said. “But it’s all over town.”

The storm is called a derecho because the high winds were so widespread.

Batteries and backups

Some may wonder why traffic lights were working at some intersections, such as Caton Farm and Essington Road, after the storm hit, but later stopped working.

“Some of them have a battery backup,” Trizna said. “They work for six or seven hours, and then the battery goes out.”

Speaking of backups, the village of Plainfield probably had the most backed-up roads in the region when most of the town lost power and key intersections, including US 30 and Route 59, became four-way stops.

Driving through Plainfield early Tuesday was like trying to get out of Chicago on Interstate 55 at rush hour on a bad day.