Wheeling was one of the hardest-hit towns, with damage that included a roof that landed in a parking lot and debris smashed through the rear windshield of a van at an office building. Police say no one was injured.
"It's gonna be a long day, a long day," Barry Ruby said as he began picking up the pieces of his kitchen and bath remodeling business in Wheeling Wednesday morning.
Strong winds from Tuesday night's storm peeled back part of the roof in his work area. Giant sections blew off and scattered all over the parking lot.
"When we got here, ComEd was supposed to be coming, but gas was here. And the building was locked up, so I couldn't even get inside to look. All I saw was roof all over the concrete," Ruby said.
Ruby says the damage is a huge setback for business.
"I have a partner that lives off the business," he said. "I live off the business. Right now there's no phones, so there's no phone calls coming in. I can't get deliveries of product."
A next-door business also lost part of its roof. The storm ripped off skylights, leaving open holes in the ceiling.
The storm came through around 7 p.m. Tuesday particularly strong in the northern suburbs, and in some areas there were reports of wind gusts estimated at about 70-plus miles per hour.
The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane and Lake counties until 9 p.m. Tuesday.
"I heard a big boom. Sure enough, the roof peeled off. The whole roof just blew into the parking lot," said Lovell Williams. "We work here every night. There is nobody in the building. We knew nobody was there, so it didn't hurt people, just the property."
In Kane County, sheets of rain came down while lightning and high winds blew through the area, pounding the roadways. While Kane County took a beating, so did the South Side of Chicago. Several trees were downed near 131st Street. Debris from the storms smashed unoccupied cars and took out power lines.
Thirty-two hundred ComEd customers were still without power as of 6 a.m. Wednesday, and most were concentrated in the northern suburbs. At the height of the storm, almost 24,000 people were without power.