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posted: 7/2/2012 6:52 PM

Residents tell their stories of storm's hits and misses

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Jim and Ann Mclearen were huddled in a downstairs bathroom Sunday as the storm raged outside their Wheaton home on the 1300 block of Irving Avenue near Hawthorne Elementary School.

Then they heard the crash.

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"It sounded like an explosion, a big boom and glass shattering and splintering of wood," Ann Mclearen said Monday.

The culprit was a large limb that was ripped off a honey locust tree in their backyard and crashed into the second floor of their home where, just a week earlier, relatives had been staying in the bedrooms for their son's wedding shower.

"Thank God nobody got hurt," Jim Mclearen said. "That was the first thing that came out of our mouths."

On Monday, a crane crew was parked in their driveway removing the fallen limbs. The couple are staying in a hotel while others determine the financial toll.

"The feeling in your heart is you've worked so hard for this and for it to be taken so fast is disconcerting," Ann Mclearen said with tear-filled eyes.

But she applauded their neighbors' support. After the storm, one offered food from a catered birthday party that was canceled. "We have the best block in Wheaton," Ann Mclearen said.

Those kinds of stories were playing out over much of DuPage County Tuesday as residents and officials struggled to clean up after Sunday's vicious storm.

In West Chicago, neighbors gathered on the 400 block of Highland Avenue to watch crews remove two 100-year-old trees that fell on a house. One ripped open the right side of the building on the second floor, and the other punctured the top of the roof on the left side.

Neighbors say the family was home at the time of Sunday's storm, but everyone had taken cover in the basement. No one was hurt.

Ben Stibel, 16, who lives next door, was on his family's patio removing deck chairs when he saw the trees coming down.

"It was kind of like a domino effect. It was one tree after another," he said.

His dad, Jeff, said the neighborhood has had bad storms before, but nothing like Sunday's.

As a result of the neighborhood's "temperamental electricity," several residents on the block are prepared with generators, Jeff Stibel said.

"I think everyone around here has learned we need them," he said.

A block away, two limbs from a 17-inch diameter tree fell in Sharon Plante's front yard and walkway to her porch -- crisscrossing each other and completely sparing her house of any damage.

She was home Sunday afternoon when the winds were whipping through the neighborhood. Her husband had gone out to walk the dog and once the power went out, she got in her car to go find him.

He had just made it around the block. She rolled down her window and said, "(Let's) hit the basement."

"It was a little scary," she said.

And there they waited until the worst of the storm was over.

"We were safe. We're thankful nobody was hurt," she said.

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