Winter storm wreaks havoc along Chicago's lakefront; crews, lakefront communities work to repair damage

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Crews are still working Monday to clean up the mess left behind as heavy rain, whipping winds and high waves pounded the Chicago area over the weekend.

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Last weekend's storm destroyed parts of Chicago's beaches, including the lakefront trail. ABC 7 took before and after photos at five beaches to show the changes over just a few day



Parts of the Lakefront Trail were closed and blockades were put up after high waves damaged the trail with piles of asphalt lining the trail.

Late Monday morning, the Chicago Park District announced the trail has reopened, but that those who use it should be aware that asphalt is missing south of Fullerton and between Ohio and Oak streets.

Wind gusts reportedly topped 55 miles per hour, with waves towering 20 feet tall flooding paths and streets around the lakefront.

The storm eroded the ground near sidewalks as the waves made their way above retaining walls.

The storm eroded the ground near sidewalks as the waves made their way above retaining walls.



"It is intense. The hydraulic force of the water is incredible," biker Lincoln Schatz said.

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Trees along the shoreline are now covered in thick ice as record-high lake levels continue to rise.


Miles of trails across the shoreline are still covered with mountains of sand.

"There is three-four feet of sand up there on the path," Schatz said. "The path is gone."

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The record-high lake levels coupled with high winds, snow and rain left no area immune from damage. Piles of broken pieces of asphalt lined the running trail in the North Side, while windows of homes along the South Shore now boarded up.

Video showed most of Elliott Park in Evanston was underwater after heavy rains driven by strong wind gusts flooded the area.
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Much of Elliott Park in Evanston is underwater after heavy rains driven by strong wind gusts flooded the area.



Chicago Park District crews did not waste time getting to work-pushing around piles of sand, clearing debris and inspecting eroded areas for safety. As for the damaged sections of the path, it's unclear if and when they will be fully repaired.

United States Army Corps of Engineers officials with the Chicago Shoreline Projection Project said they've asked for a reevaluation study of the area to see what more can be done to better protect the lakefront. But even if that request is granted, they say it would need more funding and years to complete.
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