Many Chicago-area residents still without power

June 22, 2011 (MT. PROSPECT, Ill.)

ComEd officials said approximately 182,000 customers across the Chicago had no electricity as of about 3 p.m. Wednesday.

The hardest hit areas are in the northern suburbs, where 132,000 customers were without power. About 34,000 people lost electricity in the near west suburbs and 17,000 in the south suburbs.

About 1,800 customers were in the dark in Chicago.

ComEd says it could be several days before all of the power is restored.

The National Weather Service confirmed Wednesday that two EF-1 tornadoes struck west suburban Downers Grove and northwest suburban Mt. Prospect.

All it took was a bolt of lightning to bring down not only the power lines but also two poles onto an apartment complex in Mt. Prospect. The residents there have been displaced until the damage can be repaired. But it could take a while.

"It was amazing. I've never seen anything like it before," said Deborah Bonds, Mt. Prospect resident. "All of a sudden, I saw this white strike of lightning. It hit the pole behind us and it blazed."

"We have extensive power outages. We believe up to two thirds of our residents were impacted by the storms," said Irvana K. Wilks, Mt. Prospect mayor.

More than 400 ComEd crews have been working around the clock since the storms hit Tuesday night. The vast majority of those still without power are in the northwest suburbs where they are also cleaning up the debris left behind by the storms.

"We're just walking around, there is nothing else to do. Fortunately we have a gas stove so at least we can cook dinner, go home, read books and play board games," said Carol Habel, resident.

No one was injured, but emergency responders have still been busy.

"We have responded to 150 calls since last night," said John Malcomb, Mt. Prospect fire chief. "We had some elderly patients on oxygen that we had to assist, take to another location. We're working with human services."

Businesses have also been hard hit. Along a busy stretch of Route 83 near Dempster many were in the dark.

"Can't run the business without power. Can't run the lottery machines. Can't run the cash registers. Customers complain, but I can't do anything about it," said Ranchaob Ankola, business owner.

In Mt. Prospect alone, 25 intersections are without power, leaving local police to direct traffic at the busiest ones.

"We want to remind people at intersections which aren't manned to approach them like stop signs, then proceed," said Commander John Wagner, Mt. Prospect Police Department.

The power outages are also affecting the evening commute. Power is out at 14 Metra stops. The trains are still running, but customers are unable to purchase their tickets at the stations, which are also unable to communicate any alerts.

Metra said that passengers on the Milwaukee and Union Pacific lines should expect some delays because of switching problems on those lines. As of 4 p.m., all lines were experiencing some minor delays of 10 to 20 minutes.

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