ComEd: Several days before power is restored

July 11, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were still without power Monday night after falling trees knocked out lines.

ComEd says this is the worst widespread outage since a Chicago-area ice storm back in 1998. At the height of the storms, over 868,000 customers lost power.

ComEd power crews were out all day trying to restore power. At 10 p.m., a total of 463,000 customers were still without power. The worst-hit area was north of the city where 240,000 had no electricity. There were 42,000 without power to the south, 108,000 to the west and 73,000 in Chicago and the near west suburbs.

ComEd said it will be several days before everyone has their power back.

The north and northwest suburbs were hit hardest by the storms.

Andy Dal Ponte bought his first home in the North Libertyville Estate subdivision 10 years ago, and in that time he has dealt with power outages caused by storms. Not only is he without power, he may be without a home after a tree crushed the back of his house. It happened at 8 o'clock in the morning when he wasn't at home and his dog Harley was home alone. Neighbors tried to prepare him for the damage.

"I was more ready just to find my dog but once we found him it got overwhelming," said Dal Ponte.

Most of the subdivision was in the dark Monday night.

Downed trees caused massive power outages. In Libertyville alone, half of the village was without power. Officials say the damage was mainly to property.

"We transported two residents who were injured when a tree hit their home. Other than that we have been fortunate, not had a lot of other serious injuries," said Chief Rich Carani, Libertyville Fire Department.

While downed trees are a common sight in the wake of the storm, the loss of one tree in particular is upsetting to the village of Wilmette. Its suburb's oldest tree, a 265-year-old bicentennial Ash tree, was uprooted.

"This tree has been so big and cached for all these years and now to see it split in two, it's just awful," said Chris Channing, Wilmette mayor.

ComEd is working overtime to restore power. Additional workers were called in from Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

"Typically in a storm like this where we have this kind of severe damage, we look to restore the main circuits first," said Fidel Marquez, ComEd.

ComEd said the best way to report a downed wire or an outage is via their website,

Downed trees litter city streets

The storms knocked down thousands of trees and hundreds of power lines in the city of Chicago.

The Office of Emergency Management says about 60,000 homes in the city were without power Monday night.

No one was inside but the family dog when an 100-year- old tree became up rooted and landed on the roof at 98th and Damen.

"It's like the neighbor said. He said he saw it go straight up in the air, turn and fall. He said he thought he was in the Wizard of Oz," said Jog Jogmen, homeowner.

Strong wind downed trees that litter streets and yards all over the Chicago area after the sudden storm whipped through a little after 8 o'clock in the morning .

Monique Harris was watching out her window to check her car when a tree squashed the car behind hers.

"It was scary. It happened so fast, and it was so loud. It was something. I was just so thankful no one was in there," said Monique Harris.

Mattie Liggins was inside her car when a tree smashed onto it. She was trapped briefly but escaped injury.

"The storm caught me, and I pulled over 'cause I couldn't see. And as soon as I pull over, the tree came tumbling on me," said Liggins.

Most damage around the city involved downed trees. In some cases, they fell harmlessly to the ground, but in others they caused big problems.

The trees are also a major factor in power outages, like one that forced the evacuation of the senior home Grant Village on the South Side.

"They said two or three days before they can rectify this problem," said resident Jeannette Jefferson. "You see us out here, we are up in the air.

Many of the residents are in wheel chairs. They have been told to expect the power to be out between 24 and 48 hours.

Other damage

Great America's operators hope the theme park will be open Tuesday. Most of the power was restored Monday night.

Earlier, the lack of electricity forced Great America to close, causing a major back up on I-94 and the road leading into the parking lot.

Some Downers Grove police and firefighters spent the evening evacuating a senior citizens development. The storms knocked out power at the 164-unit Oak Tree Towers. It may be days before the power is back on.

Downers Grove emergency crews and the Red Cross have set up a cooling shelter at Benedictine University in Lisle.

A Cook County sheriff's deputy was one of seven people hurt when strong winds blew down a large tent in southwest suburban Palos Hills.

"The storm that came through was so freaky that it just lifted the entire tent up and then dropped it," Mayor Jerry Bennett of Palos Hills.

The deputy and workers were cleaning up after a weekend festival at Moraine Valley Community College. Mayor Bennett said all the injuries were minor but those hurt were checked at a hospital.

The hardest-hit areas were in the northwest and northern suburbs.

Dozens of people were evacuated from an apartment complex in Waukegan. Winds ripped the roofs off several buildings.

In Lake Villa, firefighters spent the day responding to calls for help and concerns about downed power lines.

During the storm, the National Weather Service put out a seiche warning. High winds dragged lots of water to the Michigan side of the lake. When waves rolled back to the Chicago area they were abnormally high.

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