Thousands lose power amid summer storms
By Jason Freeman email@example.com July 1, 2012 4:26PM
Linda Green looks at the damage to her 27-foot Colorado blue spruce tree (left) and 15-foot Austrian pine tree (right) off Spring Creek St. Saturday, June 30, 2012, in New Lenox. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 3, 2012 6:20AM
Thousands of ComEd customers were without power after storms swept through Saturday and Sunday.
The storms eventually caused 250,000 ComEd customers to lose power in the Chicago area. By 8:45 p.m., 155,000 customers were still without power.
Most of the outages were in the north and west suburbs.
Nearly 200 calls of fallen trees and branches poured into Chicago’s 911 center, along with 50 calls of downed wires and 35 street light outages.
It all passed nearly as quickly as it arrived. The sun reappeared, the mercury rose as high as the low 90s. Forecasters predicted more storms Monday.
At noon at the Taste of Joliet on Sunday, lightning and thunderstorms forced the festival to shut down and people to be evacuated. At 12:30 p.m., Joliet Memorial Stadium lost all power, but at 1 p.m., the doors re-opened.
Lockport residents were taking the power outage in stride, said Sgt. Rob Harlan, of the Lockport Police Department.
“The ones that I’ve talked to, they’re OK,” he said. “They say, ‘It’s weather. This is the Midwest, and we’re the Chicagoland area. It’s the Windy City. Hello?’ I can’t disagree with them.”
Harlan said despite the power outages, the village is holding up well.
“Our cleaning crew has been out doing everything they can, and they’re doing a phenomenal job,” he said. “The residents are helping each other, so, so far, so good.”
Customers began reporting outages after 9 p.m. Saturday, when heavy wind gusts from storms moving through the area caused down power lines and pole damage, ComEd spokeswoman Arlana Johnson said.
Sunday’s storms swept across the Chicago area shortly before noon starting in the western suburbs, then moving through central Cook County and crossing over to Northwest Indiana, according to the National Weather Service.
However brief, the hostile weather caused plenty of lasting damage.
More than 60 kayakers on the Chicago River had to be rescued after the storm blew in about 12:50 p.m. near Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street, officials said. Citations were issued to Chicago Kayak and Waveriders Kayak Tours after they failed to suspend tours despite severe weather warnings.
“We had it all under control,” said Chicago Kayak owner Dave Olson. “We had three guides out there, so for us it wasn’t that big of a deal.”
Contributing: Sun-Times Media