State of emergency declared in Lake Co. after storms

July 13, 2011 4:15:09 PM PDT
A state of emergency has been declared in Lake County as the cleanup continues following Monday's storms.

The declaration means that homeowners could get state assistance from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency in helping clean up debris on their property. It may also help people eventually obtain financial aid from the federal government. The declaration also makes it easier for the county and municipalities to share resources.

Lake County Emergency Management is working to put together a cost estimate of the storm damage and work continues to repair dozens of traffic signals.

On one block in Grayslake the lights are off and everyone's home.

"Everybody checks on everybody. If somebody already has power, they offer their generator, so you can hear the noises," said Aldona Rogers, Grayslake resident.

Even the Grayslake Police Department is running on generators. No essential services have been affected but the air is out.

"We have 1-800-EDISON-1, just like everybody else," said Interim Chief Matt McCutcheon of the Grayslake Police Department when asked if had a secret number to get the lights back on.

Lake County officials hope their state of emergency proclamation will help speed state assistance and funding to hard hit neighborhoods.

Officials say signals are out at more than 80 intersections across the county and since Monday the sheriff's department has responded to at least 70 vehicle accidents.

"Try to stay calm. We don't like to see road rage grow out of this type of situation. And also, just use more caution than you normally would," said McCutheon.

At the Save-A-Pet Adoption Center in Grayslake, more than 250 animals are waiting in the dark. A borrowed generator is running a few fans but it's not enough.

"The biggest concern is obviously overheating. And we're a no-kill, so we have some animals that are sick, and some of their medication needs to be refrigerated. So we don't want that to expire," said Marc Portugal, Save-A-Pet Adoption Center.

For the Wamsleys of Grayslake, there's little to do but sit and wait.

"We've had good company. There's a lot of people who've been without power, and together we've managed to get through it," said Jamie Wamsley, storm victim.

With the mercury expected to rise in the coming days, people are concerned. In McHenry County, one mother of a 2-year-old baby says ComEd has few answers.

"We're not getting any response from anybody. They just keep telling us well one more day, maybe Friday, and they don't tell us anything. They're not saying what grid we're on or anything," she told ABC7.

Waiting at home isn't an option for some, however.

Stephanie Neely of McHenry had to leave after her well stopped pumping water. The closest available hotel was in Algonquin, about 20 miles away.

"It was frustrating, but at this point at least I'm grateful we were lucky enough to find a room only 20 miles away. At this point, I have to try to look at it that way," she said.

"We added extra staff last night and this morning just to be there for them because the phone's been ringing non-stop, and we need extra staff," said Benjamin Beallis, Holiday Inn Express general manager.

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