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Powerful storm roars through Chicago area

Sunday, July 01, 2012

A powerful storm created 90-mile-per-hour winds and took out electricity to more than 200,000 ComEd customers, with power lines and trees being knocked down in the city and suburbs.

With so many down trees, the entire city of West Chicago was without power on Sunday night with some of the worst damage in DuPage County with the north side of the city taking the biggest hit.

Two-hundred-year-old trees were uprooted or split in half. They landed on cars and roofs, but that was just a small part of the damage.

"I'm still kind of in shock," said West Chicago resident Chris Dierschow. "I know what it looked before and now seeing this, it's literally like a war zone."

"Trees that have been there forever pulled up at the roots, laying on their sides," said West Chicago resident Brian King. "Some larger trees (were) just snapped off at the middle. It looks like a bomb hit it."

All afternoon, residents came by to walk through the devastation, including West Chicago superintendant of parks, who said it will take about a month to clean up all the mess.

"This is the queen of our park system," Jesse Felix said. "Just because of the way the community reacts to it and uses the park, it's a good sucker punch. We'll rebound."

Rebounding fast as residents and city crews began cleaning up immediately. Many are just thankful that nobody was hurt when the storm ripped through.

A huge branch fell right through Beth Clark's mother's car window on the driver's side.

"I'm so grateful that no one was in the car," she said. "It came right through and if someone had been in there, they wouldn't have survived."

And with downed trees, there were a lot of downed power lines, causing blocked streets and traffic signals down on major roads.

"If anyone sees wires that are down, please don't go near them," said Robert Hodge, West Chicago Fire Chief. "They still could be live or become live at any point in time."

The fire chief said it may take between two to three days before West Chicago is back on line completely.

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