Storm creates mess throughout Chicago area

Thunderstorm creates havoc, mess throughout Chicago area
August 31, 2013 7:15:02 AM PDT
Strong storms created a major mess across the Chicago area Friday night, bringing high winds and a heavy downpour, causing power outages and transportation delays.

Trees are down everywhere, some toppled in yards, some on cars and others on porches and power lines.

Tens of thousands were still without power late Friday night.

Sheets of rain sent people scrambling for cover, but the storms were gone just as quickly as they arrived.

Most of the heavy storms moved to the south of Chicago, but the area had a third of an inch to two inches of rain as the system pushed through the area with wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour and some small hail reported.

A four-story condo under construction was hit by a blast of wind and down went a big chunk of the cinderblock wall, right on top of the building next door, and right through the roof, trashing a top floor apartment. Some of the cinderblocks and debris landed on a young woman, who suffered cuts and bruises.

"There were visible lacerations and cuts to the body," said resident Drew Williams.

The damage was significant enough to send water through the ceiling of John's Barber Shop on the first floor, meaning that the building will need inspection and repair.

"Whoever's building the building, it didn't support the wall securely, according to all the city codes. Apparently the whole wall collapsed over my dad's roof," said Marek Ciesla.

The wind was a rude guest at the Taste of Polonia festival, wrecking some tents, and crowds had to head for shelter at the Jazz fest at Milenium Park.

On the West Side, four members of the Meeks family were sitting on the front porch when the wind snapped a huge branch off a neighboring tree. Good thing it landed where they weren't.

"Everybody's fine," said Charles Meeks. "My mother was on the porch, my niece was on the porch, but everybody got in the house safely, everybody's fine."

Wind forces Metra delays

There are still delays Friday night for many Metra passengers.

It was a nightmare commute for many people who were stuck on trains for more than two hours.

Metra said that they stopped trains because of Union Pacific's high wind policy.

That policy states that when the national weather service issues warnings where winds could reach 65 miles per hour or more, trains are stopped.

Trains were moving again Friday night. Metra says they started rolling again about 7:30.

Rain, wind pound suburbs

The late afternoon thunder storms rolled through dumping heaving rain and bringing strong winds.

Low areas flooded and tall objects put to the test.

Margaret Mersch in Skokie lost part of her tree, but fortunately it did not fall on her house.

"It got really dark and then it got really windy. The tree was tree swaying and I saw it start to come down, so I actually went downstairs in my basement," she said.

The Niles Target was open for business even without power.

During the height of the storm customers were kept in the back away from windows.

Elizabeth Ryan had stopped for a few items but ended up waiting out the storm in the back of the store.

"It got really dark and I said, 'Oh, should I really go in here?' And then when I went in, I could hear it on the ceiling, the hail pounding and then all of sudden all of the lights went pitch black," she said.

The crowd gathered for a football game at Crystal Lake South ended up taking cover. The game was cancelled due to the storm.

Saint Francis High School in suburban Wheaton was supposed to dedicate its new stadium Friday night, but the football game and the celebration were cancelled because of the storms.

Flight delays, power outages

As many people are trying to get out of town for the holiday weekend, the storm caused flight delays of 30 minutes or more at O'Hare and Midway airports.

There are power outages as well. Comed says 62,700 customers are without power Friday night, 38,500 are in Chicago and 16,000 are in the northern region. The rest are scattered to the south and west.


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