Fast moving storms hit area

Electricity restored by Sunday
June 29, 2008 9:01:13 PM PDT
Strong thunderstorms with hail and high winds caused damage and injuries in some Chicago suburbs Saturday afternoon. The fast moving storms knocked out power to at least 34,000 ComEd customers.

Powered by 60-mile-per-hour wind gusts, some of the tents at an outdoor art fair in Evanston essentially turned into sails and they along with some pretty expensive artwork and a couple of people went flying down the street.

A mangled mess is what's left of parts of Evanston's Fountain Square Art Festival. "The winds got too strong and everything started flying," said one art fair visitor.

"I flew about 20 feet. My tent was right about there and I ended up right on the other side of the trees. That's how far we went. And it's heavy, it's weighted down, it's made out of solid metal. The winds are just too strong," said artist Anastasia Makarenko.

"It was all over, in the street, broken glass and ceramic. I've never seen anything like it," said storm witness Francis Galinsky.

"They made an announcement for everybody to get away from the windows. And we could still see out and all these tents were just blowing. The artwork is going everywhere," said storm witness Laura Ander.

Dozens of artists' work was damaged by Mother Nature. Parts of the street looked like a food fight had erupted at the art festival. Chuck Spencer lost four of his handmade lamps plus his $1,500 tent.

"Everything just started lifting up. I lost my tent. It wrapped itself around a lamppost and the work just started flying and people were screaming," Spencer said.

Admittedly there are a few artists whose inventories were destroyed and obviously they won't be back but t vast majority of the 200 artists will be back on Sunday.

"A lot of it was lost. My equipment was lost. I have to go home and assess the damages. I'm looking it as the glass half full, not half empty," said one artist.

Paramedics treated half a dozen people with minor scrapes and bruises though one person suffered a broken arm. As for damage, organizers don't have an exact dollar figure but say it's well into the thousands and they certainly want people to know, though, that this arts festival will reopen Sunday morning at 10:00.

The western suburbs also were hit by a fast moving storm. Wind and rain swirled through Saint Charles leaving downed trees blocking roads.

Residents say leaves and limbs went flying with a burst of wind that lasted about 45 seconds.

One homeowner called the storm crazier than a Cubs-Sox game.


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