Severe storms cause flooding, damage

June 23, 2010 (CHICAGO)

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High winds downed trees in the city and all over the suburbs.

Some neighborhoods were still cleaning up from last week's storms. But one of the biggest problems was on the Stevenson expressway which was closed in both directions between Damen and Pulaski for hours because of flooding. Commuters used side streets, but did not get anywhere quickly. The Eisenhower was also closed for much of the evening because of flooding near First Avenue.

"Getting on to I-55 going south to Damen, it took two hours. And I just got off now and...Pulaski is shut, Harlem is shut, Cicero is shut because of downed power lines. I got to go west to Midway to get home and I'm still trying to figure that out," said Jason Huff.

Metra commuters were no better off. Union Station was packed as commuters lined up to try to board trains, but there were no trains at the station. Most were stranded en route to downtown by the severe weather to the west, north and south. The Metra Electric was also shut down for a time.

The Office of Emergency Management in Chicago sounded their sirens twice because of reports of a funnel cloud. Those reports were not confirmed.

Storms hit suburbs hard

The suburbs suffered severe damage due to the storms. The southwest suburbs were hit especially hard.

Don Kimball was working in a complex of buildings in Oak Brook around 5 p.m. when the wind noise signaled it was time to get out.

"We were walking to the stairwell and...the building was shaking back and forth to the point where you couldn't walk," said Kimball.

There is likely structural damage at the complex as there is with the trees on Butler National Golf Course, just east of the damaged buildings. All around Oak Brook, there is evidence of a violent storm's passing. The owner of the buildings looked at the rainbow over her property Wednesday evening and found reason for thanks.

"So far as we can tell no one's been hurt. That was our utmost concern. Everybody here at work seems to be safe. Right now we just have to start the restoration project," said Caroline Komer, Hinsdale Management Copeland Company.

In Elmhurst, winds snapped mature trees like toothpicks. The debris blew well on to the I-88 Reagan Tollway. It was similar to destruction on the near east side, where a wind and lightning toppled a tree into a transformer pole, knocking it into high tension wires, and knocking out power in North Riverside.

Insurance adjusters in the suburbs said damage is well into the hundreds of thousands.

Flights grounded at O'Hare, Midway

There was a ground stop at both Chicago airports Wednesday night because of the storms. Flights resumed late Wednesday but they were backed up. At O'Hare, there were more than 500 cancelations. Delays were running about 90 minutes.

Only a few flights were canceled at Midway Airport. Passengers were delayed about two hours or even longer in some cases.

Travelers are advised to check airline web sites for the latest information.

Storms cause power outages

The storms knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people, most in Chicago and south suburbs ComEd said more than 220,000 customers were without electricity as of 10 p.m. Wednesday night. The company said Chicago and the south suburbs were the hardest hit.

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