Three weeks after a once-in-a-decade windstorm swept through Flossmoor, a giant pile of branches is being turned into a mountain of mulch.
On Wednesday, a huge chipping machine — a tub grinder — was gobbling up debris from the Aug. 10 derecho storm and spitting it into a 20-foot mound of vegetation. The grinder arrived Tuesday at Flossmoor’s Public Works complex, where it’s expected to chop up all the storm debris in a couple of days.
It took two weeks for village crews to remove storm debris from the streets and move it to the Public Works parking lot. The derecho hit two neighborhoods, Heather Hill and Flossmoor Hills/Highlands, especially hard, knocking some trees to the ground and stripping the branches from others. Winds during the storm were estimated to be 80 to 100 mph.
The pile of debris took up much of the parking lot. Public Works Director John Brunke said crews removed 8,300 yards of debris after the storm. The pile in the parking lot measured 15 feet high and 150 by 100 feet in area, he said.
Brunke said the village does not have the equipment to deal with so much debris and decided to rent the tub grinder. It’s costing Flossmoor $8,000 to rent the machine from Homer Tree Service. The company, based in Homer Glen, is providing the tub grinder and other machinery needed to reduce the branches to mulch. When the pile has been chopped up, Homer Tree Service will remove the mulch and bring it to its southwest suburban facility, where it will be ground up into smaller pieces to be sold to the public.
Homer Tree Service provided the lowest bid to Flossmoor, Brunke said. Other companies said it would take between $12,000 and $25,000 to grind up and remove the debris, he said.
The tub grinder, with a 10-foot mouth, is the largest such machine that’s available, Brunke said.
“It’s worth it,” Brunke said. “It’s a lot easier than having to do it ourselves.”
The tub grinder weighs 100,000 pounds and required a special permit from state and county authorities to be transported from Homer Glen to Flossmoor, he said.
Vince Aguilar, a driver for Homer Tree Service, said his company was very busy after last month’s windstorm. The tub grinder was taken to Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, where there was also extensive tree damage following the derecho and a tornado in that area.