About 40,000 ComEd customers still without power after storms
BY DAN ROZEK Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org July 2, 2012 9:42AM
Maximum windspeed recorded during Sunday’s storm was 77 mph at Elmhurst.
Maximum rainfall was 1.35 inches at Winfield, with 1.28 inches at Addison.
ComEd said 288,000 customers lost power at the height of the storm. At 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, 64,000 still lacked power.
High temperatures are expected to crack 90 degrees until Sunday, when the highs will slump into the mid-80s.
Sources: ComEd, National Weather Service
Updated: August 4, 2012 6:17AM
Steve Jepson doesn’t know when his electricity will come back on, but it can’t be soon enough.
“This heat is unbearable,” said Jepson, 22, as he took a break Monday from using a chainsaw to help a friend clear downed tree limbs from his Wheaton driveway. “I don’t want to rough it for a few days.”
The house where Jepson lives with his parents and sister lost power during the height of Sunday’s storm and the emergency generator they’re using now only powers the refrigerator and a couple of lights.
“Sleeping is terrible because it’s so hot,” he said. “There’s no A.C., there’s not even fans.”
After finishing the cleanup work, he planned to head for the family’s small, backyard pool to cool off.
“That’s gonna be all right,” he said.
Such relief is going to be hard to come by in the next few days for ComEd customers without power — and air conditioning — because of the fast-moving storm that packed winds of up to 77 miles an hour.
High temperatures aren’t expected to stay below 90 until Sunday, National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Ratzer said.
“We’ve got a few more days of this,” he said.
ComEd on Monday afternoon said it continued to receive more reports of outages, and a total of 230,000 customers had their power restored by 3:30 p.m.
As of 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, crews had cut that number of customers without power to 40,000. Repairs were being slowed by the toll the stifling heat was taking on work crews, ComEd Senior Vice President Fidel Marquez said.
It wasn’t clear when all customers would have their power restored, but Com Ed officials acknowledged it might take several days. Some residents were told not to expect electrical service in time for Wednesday’s holiday.
Most of those without power were in the western suburbs, particularly West Chicago, Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Lombard, Addison and Elmhurst, ComEd said.
The aftereffects of the storm led the Wheaton Park District to cancel Tuesday night’s planned Independence Day fireworks and Wednesday’s scheduled Fourth of July parade.
In DuPage County, where many offices were closed Monday after power remained out at the county complex in Wheaton, officials have declared a state of emergency for the region. Wheaton Mayor Michael J. Gresk is expected to sign a proclamation declaring a state of emergency for the city, a press release said.
Many towns were offering cooling centers, in some cases at places not typically used for them because the regular cooling centers didn’t have power either.
Some suburban residents were temporarily leaving their homes because of the lingering outages.
Casey Baldin, who gave birth two weeks ago to a daughter, planned to take her family and stay with relatives until the electricity was restored at their Glen Ellyn home.
“We’re hooked up to a generator for our fridge and freezer, but we’re not staying without power,” she said.
She said the storm roared through so powerfully Sunday that she briefly thought her neighborhood had been hit by a tornado.
“The trees were bending over. It was seriously like a tornado,” she said.
She saw a huge tree across the street topple onto a power line, where it still balanced Monday, though the power had been shut down. She lost a fence to another falling tree but was glad the damage wasn’t worse.
“I was afraid a tree was going to fall on the house, but it looks like it’s OK,” she said.
A neighbor had time to pull one of his cars out of the driveway so it wasn’t underneath a large tree, but when he returned to remove his VW Beetle, it already had been hit by a falling limb.
“My bug got squashed,” Bob Cvengros said, looking at the car’s dented roof and spiderwebbed windshield.
He plans to stay in his home until the power is restored, relying on a generator to keep his refrigerator running.
He took the damage philosophically.
“The good part is no one got hurt,” he said, adding “neighbors really helped each other out. People I didn’t even know were helping pull branches out to the street.”
Ed Kus hustled his family into the basement of their Glen Ellyn home when the sky turned black, but still was stunned when he cautiously crept back up a few minutes later to check for storm damage.
A 100-year-old, 3½-foot thick oak tree in his front yard was split nearly in two by the roaring wind — with one half tilting dangerously close to his home.
Two big black walnut trees and a maple tree had toppled in his backyard, but he still felt relieved.
“Luckily, the house wasn’t hit. It was just unbelievable,” Kus said Monday as he studied the huge fallen trees that crews were still working to remove.
The storm knocked down trees, flattened power lines, damaged roofs on homes and businesses and even toppled aluminum bleachers at a suburban park.
The fast-moving storm hardly dented the drought, though, dropping barely more than an inch of rain even in the hardest hit areas. West suburban Winfield recorded the highest total — about 1.35 inches.
“The storms are moving through so quick they’re not going to put down much rain,” the weather service’s Ratzer said.
One neighborhood in southwest suburban Lockport was also without power Monday — though that outage was caused by a separate severe storm Friday night.
The National Weather Service reported wind gusts Friday night of 87 mph in Romeoville and 85 mph in Lockport. On Monday, the weather service called Friday’s storm as a “downburst.”
Contributing: Sun-Times Media, Tony Graf