Des Plaines cleans up, O'Hare catches up

June 22, 2011 11:08:57 AM PDT
Tuesday night's severe storm tore up the northwest suburbs and sent passengers scrambling at O'Hare International Airport, where flight cancelations and delays continue.

"It was the worst last night. It was like a fireworks show right in front of the house," said Des Plaines storm victim Stephen DeMarco.

DeMarco says the winds whipped around his home for 10 minutes Tuesday night.

Power lines snapped in his front yard, leaving DeMarco and his family trapped inside. The family escaped through their backyard, but the power lines were kept them out of their home temporarily on Wednesday.

"It's a scary feeling because it [power line] is still live, and periodically, they go off and they're real bright lights and loud bangs," he said.

The powerful storms sent people across the Chicago area scrambling.

At O'Hare Airport, passenger Niall O'Sullivan slept inside a terminal after the severe weather canceled approximately 350 flights.

"The pilot was racing the plane back to the gate because the rain was coming down so heavy, and there was lightning was hitting the runway," said O'Sullivan.

Other passengers described scary moments as they scrambled to take cover, crowding a concourse tunnel.

"They decided to stop the plane and let everybody off. We were rushing through the airport, and I was calling my family and people. And then, we got here and they evacuated more than half of the airport," one passenger said.

The storm left its mark on O'Hare. The winds were so strong they moved a United Airlines jet parked at the gate, and the control tower was evacuated briefly, as well.

The storm also damaged the main parking structure. It took out part of the awning and doors to one of the elevator centers in the sprawling parking lot.

Winds also tore off part of the roof of the Fedex facility at the airport's cargo area.

Lines at Terminal 3 near were moving relatively quickly early Wednesday as airport personnel worked to return operations to normal. Still, the departures and arrivals board indicated more than two dozen American Airlines flights had been cancelled.

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