Huge tree crushes Bridgeport home; Thousands without power

July 24, 2012 (CHICAGO)

No serious injuries were reported. As crews work to restore power to 47,000 customers in Illinois and 19,000 in Indiana, residents are surveying the damage and preparing for extreme heat. A heat advisory kicks in at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. The thermometer may hit nearly 100 degrees, but it's expected to feel even hotter.

For Bill Powers, the cleanup is not going to be quick. The 50 to 80 mph winds brought down a giant tree -- believed to be around 125 years old -- onto his Bridgeport home. Its roots ripped up the sidewalk around it.

"I was still sleeping and heard a couple of cracking noises and heard things fall off the shelf in the bedroom. I thought I was dreaming of something," Powers said. Powers, his wife and puppy were asleep when it crashed down on to their home, which has been in the family for about 100 years.

"My wife started screaming. The ceiling started falling in and the floor started caving in. It was so devastating. I did not know what to think or what to do," Powers said. He has contacted his insurance agency to see what's next for the home, which he hopes can be repaired.

"We want to make sure the family is safe. That's my concern. Number two, got get that tree off that house, get it out of here, make it safe, make it secure," Chicago Alderman James Balcer, 11th Ward, said.

At the height of the storm more than 300,000 ComEd customers were left without power throughout the state. Over 400 crews are now working around the clock to turn the lights back on, but ComEd says some people may have to wait till at least Thursday.

"With the damage that we see - 60-mile-per-hour winds, there's power lines down, there's trees down on broken poles and that sort of thing - it will take the next couple of days to really get everybody back in," said Fidel Marquez, ComEd.

The City of Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation has begun its work on Powers' tree, which crews will chop into smaller parts and then haul off. The same will be done to the tree that came down on Sheldon Ellis' car in the 4800-block of West Rice.

"It's material things, things can be replaced easy. It's not that big of a deal. I mean I'm angry, but nothing I can do about that. Who am I going to get mad at, God?" Ellis said.

Chicago police cars are blocking streets where officials thinking some downed wires may still be live as ComEd crews restore the power.

On the 3300-block of West Flournoy, an uprooted tree crushed two vehicles. Dewayne Holmes says his daughter's car was destroyed just minutes before she was to leave the house.

"She was leaving early enough that she would have been in that car, my daughter, at the time that the tree had fallen," said Holmes.

With the mercury expected to approach triple-digits on Wednesday, 77-year-old Arville Adams is worried about her bedridden husband.

"We'll have to find some place to go. And we can't get the garage open to get our cars out," she said.

At Venice Bacon's home, the freezer is barely keeping the baby formula cold for her two-month old granddaughter. Food is being stored in a cooler.

"No internet. No TV. No nothing. I have teenagers in the house, so we're going crazy," said Bacon.

"My refrigerator's off. I can't eat nothing like I want to. My microwave's gone. Can't get on my computer. None of that," said Derrick Jones.

Storms knock down power lines, trees in Aurora

Dozens of locations in the southwest suburb have trees, wires and power poles down.

An old pine tree looked like it snapped in half and power lines surrounded a car on the street that was hit by a tree.

"It happened during that storm this morning," said Rosemary Abel, resident. "We heard the noise and came out, and there it was."

"Everything was blowing off, CDs, papers, everything was just blowing last night," said Courtney Keating, resident.

Leslie Coleman has lived in Aurora with her family for 14 years.

"We must have had a microburst or something. All of a sudden the wind picked up and the tree cracked, a big boom and down it went," said Coleman.

"At the height of the storm, our 911 center took in excess of over 200 calls," said Dan Ferrelli, Aurora director of Public Information.

Ferelli said the only major road closure earlier because of power lines was Indian Trail Road between High and Pennsylvania. The city has more than 30 employees to clean up the debris, he said. Workers are also busy cutting down the trees. On Garfield and Harrison, there was a fair amount of storm damage.

"These wires were all dancing and touching each other, shooting sparks and just explosions going off, so we were afraid that our house might get on fire," said Daniel DeCleen, resident.

Karen Rediger said she was unable to go to work because her 2004 Pontiac was buried under a tree.

"I could tell that the windshield is cracked," she said. "I don't know. It looks like there is some space in between there. I don't know if the sunroof is broken."

Thirty two thousand people in the region are without power. Officials say power should be restored by Thursday or Friday night.

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