Strong storms down trees, power lines across Chicago's north suburbs; 68K still without power

Thursday, August 12, 2021
65K still without power, mostly in north suburbs, ComEd says
Wind gusts were recorded above 50 mph on the North Shore, knocking down large trees and power lines, leaving thousands in the dark.

EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- From Chicago to the suburbs, residents again woke up to storm damage Wednesday morning - and some were also left in the dark.

ComEd said power outages affected over 385,000 customers between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, mostly north and northwest of the city. As of 6 p.m., ComEd said 68,000 customers remained without power.

A Heat Advisory is also in effect for Wednesday afternoon and evening, as the heat index will likely top 100 degrees again. Temperatures will reach the 90s, which is worrisome for those without power.

"We thought about sleeping in the basement, but we had the sump pump going, so the beeper was on and we didn't want to turn off the beeper, because we wanted to make sure it was working," Highland Park resident Betsie Hicks said.

Highland Park received an estimated 2 to 3 inches of rain overnight, but the bigger problem appears to have been wind. Gusts were recorded above 50 mph on the North Shore, knocking around debris big and small.

The severe weather landed a tree limb on a car across the street from Hicks' home. Thankfully, no one was injured.

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The line of storms Tuesday spanned from the north to south suburbs, and left damage in its wake across the area.

In Evanston, a large tree came down on a car, almost splitting it in half. Crews worked quickly to get it out of the way, as it blocked the roadway. The owner was visiting a friend at the time.

"I mean I'm always parking on the streets of Evanston. Who would think that it's a danger zone?" Jill Topolski said.

Neighbors said they heard the wind and rain move through fast.

WATCH | Crystal Lake street littered with downed trees

Crystal Lake was one of the hardest hit suburbs as severe storms ripped through the Chicago area Tuesday.

"We heard this huge crash; it was dark, so it was really hard to see what was happening. We looked out the window; we saw the tree uprooted and couldn't believe our eyes," Mike Nichols said.

Louisa Woods lives on the fifth floor of the complex; she looked out at this tree and appreciated the shade and wildlife it provided daily.

"I was sitting right there; if it had fallen that way I would have been killed," Woods said. "I saw the tree blowing really hard, and I thought, 'Oh, I hope my tree is OK,' then I heard the crash."

Another large tree on 87th Street and Bennett Avenue on Chicago's South Side split in two, and landed on a street light, taking out the car parked beneath it.

Nearby, an uprooted tree fell on a home, taking out the sidewalk with it.

In the 6500-block of North Rockwell in the city's West Ridge neighborhood, the street was impassible after a big tree came down onto several cars, one of which was badly damaged. The owner said he heard a large crack and came out to look at what happened. He was not injured.

One block west, a tree fell on the house of an 80-year-old woman, who was inside at the time. Thankfully, she was not injured.

"I got a phone call from my mother that a tree fell on her house, she doesn't know what's going on," her son George Vass said. "She couldn't see anything, probably the gutters came down."

Trees were down in north suburban Skokie, too, but there were no reported injuries.

A majority of CTA lines were delayed or suspended because of debris on the track, though the Purple, Brown and Red lines are running again with residual delays, according to CTA's Twitter account.

In Westchester, surveillance video caught the high winds sweeping away a shed, right out of a home's backyard.

The fast-moving storms brought down several large trees near Pingree Road and Route 31 in the Crystal Lake area.

WATCH: Crystal Lake area hit hard by storms

Streets were littered with tree damage, and many branches ended up on houses, leaving neighbors shaken.

Caroline Dombrowski has lived in the Norhaven Estates section of Crystal Lake since 1962. She said Tuesday night's storm was beyond what she's really ever seen.

At one point, about a quarter of the town, approximately 4,500 people, had no power, according to the Crystal Lake fire chief.

Streets were littered with tree damage, and many branches ended up on houses, leaving neighbors shaken after the storm hit about 7 p.m. Tuesday.

"Just came out of the middle of nowhere," said Matt Till. "6:30, family, we're finishing up with dinner, and the sky gets real dark, you hear a little bit of thunder, and the next thing you know it, the winds hit."

Till and his family hunkered down in a bathroom, as did their neighbor, who wasn't quite sure her house was going to make it.

"I wasn't sure if we were living through a tornado, a microburst or what," Till said.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office was closed Wednesday because of a power outage the storms caused.

Civilian employees working out of the main sheriff's building will operate remotely, and will be able to answer questions via telephone. Should you need to contact the Lake County Sheriff's Office Administrative Offices (Records, Civil Process, Warrants), you may do so by calling 847-377-4000. For non-emergency dispatch, you may call 847-549-5200 and for emergencies, call 911.

The Lake County Jail does have power, as there is a backup generator functioning, officials said.

Sheriff's patrol operations remain normal as do court security operations. Most other county facilities have power and are functional, including the courthouse.

There was also widespread tree damage in Elgin, leaving a mess on block after block. The scene was echoed all across the northwest suburbs.

A tree fell on an 80-year-old woman's house in West Ridge Tuesday evening.

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