Crews work to restore power

CHICAGO On Monday night, a powerful storm that swept across the region left behind downed trees, damaged buildings and flooded streets. It prompted tornado warnings in downtown Chicago.

At the height of the storm, more than 500,000 utility customers across the city and suburbs lost power.

"ComEd crews have restored more than 250,000 customers throughout our service territory. We currently have 220,000 that are still without service. We do expect this to be a multiday restoration. Currently, we have more than 500 crews in the field. We have also reached out through additional contractors and other utilities from out of state," said Joe Trost, ComEd.

ComEd says it could be several days before power is completely restored.

Nearly a dozen fires were sparked in Chicago. One at Newland and Summerdale was started by a sparking wire.

"There was this big bang and I thought my air conditioner in the bedroom had gone up in flames. But when I looked out the window, there was a power line down over my fence," said neighbor Deirdre Rosachacki.

In the 400-block of West Fullerton, power was out for three buildings after a tree fell on a transformer.

"I just bought a bunch of groceries, and now I'm gonna throw them out," said one man. "I'm just waiting to hear from ComEd. I called them a couple times, and they said 'hang tight.'"

ComEd will bringing in out-of-state crews to help with repairs. One crew was driving from Philadelphia.

"High winds cause a lot of damage. Trees come down over lines and that takes a lot of time to clear," said Anne Pramaggiori, ComEd executive vice president. "So you've got to de-energize lines. You've got to send vegetation management crews out to clear trees before you can start to put customers back up."

As of 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, a total of 146,000 customers were still without power in the area

  • 76,500 in chicago
  • 8,800 tp the north
  • 41,000 to the south
  • 19,000 to the west

ComEd said more than 400,000 customers have had their power restored in the last day.

Click here for power outage tips from ComEd

Paulette Young took advantage of the late afternoon light to get a little more work done on the book she is writing. The power had been out since Monday night, making working from home difficult at best.

"My whole point with being home today was, while I was here, to use the time to write. I can't use the computer, so I'm having to write everything out. And then I have to type it in the computer, which costs me more time," Young said.

Across the street from Young, some residents of a high rise near Lake Park and 40th were also without electricity. Seventy-year-old Leota Johnson yelled down from her eighth-floor window. She stayed inside rather than try to make it down darkened stairwells. The elevators were useless without electricity, she said.

"No lights anywhere in the stairwell and the hallways, no elevators are running," said resident Jessye Tole.

Residents said they see ComEd crews working down the street. But still they have no power. Other crews were working on the North Side Tuesday night. Pramaggiori said the utility was dealing with a large number of problems all at once.

"We have more than 500 crews in the field. We have also sought assistance from out-of-state crews," Pramaggiori said.

In fact, Wisconsin has sent a number of crews to help out in Chicago. They will find lots of work throughout the city and suburbs, including a strip mall in Lakeview, where all the businesses were without power. Many were closed. But some stayed open and tried to make the best of it, like Cookies By Design.

"We do all the decorating at our place, like, if you go somewhere else, they'll send you here for us to decorate them," said Gabriella Ramirez, Cookies By Design. "We couldn't, not today."

They had a few customers at the American Mattress Store. But business was way down.

"The heat in the store makes it tough to lay down in beds to get comfortable, so it affected the business a little bit," said Anthony Santangello, American Mattress.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.

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