Storm leaves damage in north suburbs

May 4, 2012 (EVANSTON, Ill.)

In Morton Grove, the storm made for one birthday Felix Priola will never forget. It sent a tree crashing onto the roof of his home.

"We were celebrating my 83rd birthday outside on the patio, and we heard all the hail and rain and all of a sudden, crack, crack, crack, and I looked up and the tree was on my house," he said.

The storm damage looked pretty bad in Evanston as the severe weather tore hundreds of bricks off a church. There was a roof collapse at the St. James Armenian Church. The area is taped off. Debris from the roof and bricks from part of the facade littered the sidewalks.

There was one minor injury reported from the falling debris at the church. Church officials say that a homeless person who was on the steps at the time of the collapse was injured. Fire officials say the victim suffered injuries after a brick fell on his foot.

Engineers are inspecting the church to try to figure out exactly what happened and determine if the church is safe. Officials don't know if it was a microburst or lightning that caused the damage.

"I heard a bang, but there was so much hail banging against the window, you couldn't even hear the TV in the apartment. It was pretty loud and pretty bad," said Graham Murphy, witness.

Built 100 years ago, the church administrator says it was renovated two years ago and calls it a gem in the community.

"I got married here and baptized in the church here. It was kind of sad it was happening," said churchgoer Alice Gregorian, who came by Friday morning to survey the damage.

"We have brought in a structural engineer to take a look at the facade. Our main concern is the public safety for anybody walking by," said Jeff Murphy, building official, Evanston.

There was no damage inside the church. There was no word on the cost of the repairs.

See Jason Knowles' video of the church damage

The storm also brought with it marble=sized hail. It pelted cars at the gas station in Harwood Heights.

After the storm had passed, Mike Galante put on waders and put on a rig to clear the storm drains on his Niles block.

"This happens when there are levy storms, this heavy of the street floods and my mother-in-law's house across the street, that she will get water inside the house, and if we don't keep the sewers clean," he said.

There were scenes in East Lakeview where water had covered part of the street and sidewalk on Belmont Avenue, which prompted one woman to walk along the wrought-iron fence to stay dry.

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