Seniors move back into Northlake retirement home after power restored

July 2, 2012 3:44:15 PM PDT
More than 200 people moved back into a Northlake retirement and assisted living home Monday after a power outage forced them to be evacuated.

The Concord Place retirement community lost power Sunday during storms that moved through the area.

"I saw a big black cloud out of the west, and it kept coming and coming and coming. And when it hit, it was just a rainstorm. But afterwards, the lights went out. The elevators went out," resident David Hinman said .

When the power did not come back on and back-up generators failed, it became a dangerous situation with no air conditioning and hot, muggy weather.

Dozens of firefighters were called in to help residents get out. Some actually had to carry residents down to the ground level of the 15-floor, high-rise facility because the elevators were not running.

Officials say 271 residents were moved to area hotels and other residences by emergency vehicles and cooling buses provided by ComEd.

The power was restored by 7 a.m. Monday.

Some of the residents were thanking firefighters after the ordeal. Hinman was part of the dramatic but organized evacuation.

"They were carrying one woman on a wheelchair and coming down the stairs backwards," he said.

" Those firemen are pretty amazing guys. You know, we've got 15 stories, and they are bringing people down that whole flight. So, pretty amazing. I was able to hear the residents and the firemen were joking with them and keeping them relaxed," Concord Place Director David Pokorny said.

Pokorny said approximately 100 workers took medications and meals to the hotels and hospitals where the displace residents were staying Monday.

Moving the seniors back in was a process, which took place Monday afternoon.

"We have to make sure that all the systems are safe and running properly. So, from the elevators to our fire suppression systems, we don't want to let anyone back in this building until we feel it's 100 percent safe. So, we're going through these checks. We have a lot of diffent crews here to make sure we're able to take care of the people that we take care of," Pokorny said.

The ordeal was a lot to handle for some of the senior residents. One person went to the hospital for heat exhaustion.

That person was said to be recovering.

According to ComED, the storms knocked out power to a total of 250,000 customers systemwide. About 98,000 customers were still in the dark Monday afternoon. Most outages were in the north and west suburbs.

ComEd officials were not able to give an estimate on when the electricity would be restored.

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