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updated: 7/11/2011 11:31 PM

440,000 still without power out of 868,000 at peak

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  • Mary Flores looks over the damage cause by a large Oak tree falling during Monday morning's storm. Several cars in the driveway of her N. Bellevue Drive home in Round Lake Park were damaged.

      Mary Flores looks over the damage cause by a large Oak tree falling during Monday morning's storm. Several cars in the driveway of her N. Bellevue Drive home in Round Lake Park were damaged.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • South of South. Princeton Avenue and West Grove Street,  Arlington Heights.

      South of South. Princeton Avenue and West Grove Street, Arlington Heights.
    John Lampinen | Daily Herald

  • Many trees were damaged Monday morning during a fast-moving storm, including trees in a yard on North Main Street in Wheaton.

      Many trees were damaged Monday morning during a fast-moving storm, including trees in a yard on North Main Street in Wheaton.
    Scott Sanders | Daily Herald

  • A severe storm that rolled through Des Plaines Monday morning brought part of this tree down on power lines at the intersection of Oakwood Court. and Northwest Place. Police blocked the street until the live wires could be safely removed.

      A severe storm that rolled through Des Plaines Monday morning brought part of this tree down on power lines at the intersection of Oakwood Court. and Northwest Place. Police blocked the street until the live wires could be safely removed.
    Jeff Knox | Daily Herald

  • Del Rogers cleans up branches around his home on the corner of Crane and Dawes streets in Libertyville Monday morning after a dangerous thunderstorm blew through the area. The willow

      Del Rogers cleans up branches around his home on the corner of Crane and Dawes streets in Libertyville Monday morning after a dangerous thunderstorm blew through the area. The willow
    Steve Lundy | Daily Herald

 

Some residents across the region may be without power for several days as crews work to restore electricity to more than 440,000 customers, ComEd officials said.

Monday's storm knocked out power to 868,000 customers, the largest total since at least 1998, the utility said.

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"We didn't keep records the same way before 1998," spokeswoman Judy Rader said. "This is the most since we started using this method to measure."

ComEd officials said "several days" could pass before power is completely restored to all the approximately 463,000 still without power. A more precise timeline was not available.

"This is the worst storm we have ever seen (in terms of power outages)," spokesman Fidel Marquez said earlier Monday.

Winds reached 75 mph and created a seiche on Lake Michigan as the storm raced through the area in roughly 30 minutes, according to the National Weather Service. Although it dropped only about a quarter-inch of rain, the storm caused lightning strikes, uprooted trees and damaged buildings.

Marquez said it did even more damage to ComEd's system than an August 2007 storm that knocked out power to 680,000 customers.

Northern Lake County was hit particularly hard, he said, and ComEd crews set up command centers in Crystal Lake and Libertyville to supervise restoration efforts. About 234,000 customers remained without power in the utility's northern region as of 11 p.m., Rader said.

Another command center was opened in Bedford Park near the CSX Railroad yard in Cook County.

More than 480 crews worked to fix downed power lines and return electricity to the region, starting with essential customers such as hospitals and fire and police stations. Because of severe weather reports, ComEd called crews in advance from Iowa, Pennsylvania and Missouri to help.

As of 11 p.m., approximately 95,000 customers in ComEd's West suburban region remained without power, 69,000 in the Chicago region and 42,000 in the southern region.

Metra trains experienced delays of up to two hours after operators shut down three Union Pacific lines for up to 50 minutes due to weather warnings. Officials said some trains in areas such as Lake Bluff, Zion, Cary and Waukegan experienced even further delays once they got running due to downed trees and power lines on the tracks.

Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said passengers were alerted to scheduled changes by more than 80 service advisories throughout the day.

Delays and cancellations also affected O'Hare and Midway airports throughout the day, with departing and arriving flights running up to 90 minutes late at both locations. O'Hare saw more than 200 flight cancellations by 4 p.m., while Midway reported only minor cancellations.

As storm cleanup continues, Marquez advised residents to report downed power lines at www.comed.com and to keep their distance.

"Do not approach these power lines, because it could be dangerous," he said.

He said any residents without power who have health issues should move to "a more comfortable area," while others who might lose food due to lack of refrigeration should check www.usda.gov to learn what is safe to eat.

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