Public works crews are working to assess storm damage in Oak Park and River Forest this afternoon after a severe thunderstorm raced through the Chicagoland area producing damaging winds upwards of 70 miles per hour, grounding flights and halting trains.
John Wielebnicki, director of Oak Park Public Works, said there are between 40-50 locations around Oak Park with large limbs down. A few of those limbs fell on houses, he said.
In the 1100 block of Miller Avenue, neighbors gathered to monitor a nervewracking situation in the alley, where a giant tree in a residential backyard collapsed onto a bundle of power lines and crushed a garage. No injuries were reported.
"The wind pushed all of these trees sideways," said Kim Tenhor, gesturing toward Miller Avenue. "Then we heard a crack..."whack!"...then all the power went out in an instant."
Neighbors in the area said they've been ordered to stay away from their backyards and nearby alleyways and to keep vehicles in their garages.
Many roadways are open except for a few residential streets, Wielebnicki said, but there are crews and contractors picking up the debris.
“An area along Oak Park Avenue doesn’t have power,” he said. “From south of Madison Avenue to I-290 and north of Madison to the green line, there are a number of traffic signals out.”
Oak Park village spokesman David Powers told TribLocal at least 25 trees were damaged or uprooted in the area by the storm.
“The crews are out there and there is definitely going to be some cleanup today, maybe longer,” he said.
The trains affected are now running mostly on time on Chicago Transit Authority Green and Blue Lines after service was disrupted on nearly lines this morning because of the high winds. According to CTA’s website, residual delays may still occur.
Service for Metra Union Pacific West is back to normal, after many of the line’s trains operated on an hour delay after the storm.
According to Commonwealth Edison website, more than 578,000 customers are without power in the Chicago area as of 11:30 a.m.
In the western suburbs, around 132,000 customers are without power, the Chicago Tribune reported. Roughly 97,000 of those customers don’t have power in Chicago and Maywood.
Immediately following the storm, nearly 750,000 customers had no electricity.