Cleanup could take weeks in Lake County
Cooling centers were opened in some areas and Lake County authorities put in a call to the state for help in clearing debris scattered far and wide in the aftermath of a quick but wicked storm Monday morning that packed winds of up to 75 mph.
Cleanup could take weeks and power could be out for days in various areas as trees snapped and traffic signals went dead throughout the county. But the most intense effect appeared to be in parallel lines stretching from Fox Lake to Zion and Volo to North Chicago.
"Pretty much everything between those two lines got hit," said Kent McKenzie, the county's emergency management coordinator. "I'd say the whole county got hit pretty significantly."
Lake Villa Township was particularly hard hit as large trees were uprooted and strewed throughout neighborhoods. Eric Calabrese was watching his brother's house on Richard Road and found four trees with heavy damage, including an entire tree with the 8-foot diameter rootball ripped free.
A branch crashed through the roof, shattered rafters and poked through to the kitchen below.
"It's a good thing no one was home," Calabrese said. "Someone would have been standing right there."
On Morton Drive in Lake Villa Township, Jay Bouma escaped damage to his home but was busy helping neighbors clear debris.
"It looks like a war zone," Bouma said. "Trees are everywhere. It's amazing."
In Grayslake, Monday's power outages led the village to issue a ban on all outdoor water use by residential and commercial customers until further notice. Officials also asked that indoor water use be kept at a minimum in an effort to preserve the village's supply.
Gurnee Fire Department Chief Fred Friedl said most major intersections still lacked power Monday afternoon. At least 65 emergency calls poured in to Gurnee dispatchers soon after the storm hit about 8 a.m., but no injuries were reported.
Friedl said crews scrambled to cover a variety of calls from Gurnee, Wadsworth and unincorporated Grandwood Park on the village's western border.
Three vehicles burned after getting hit by a live power line while parked on a Grandwood Park street Monday morning, Friedl said. Just north of Gurnee Mills, lightning caused a roof fire at a home on Yearling Drive that was quickly doused and resulted in minimal damage, he said.
Local fire and police agencies received dozens of calls regarding downed trees and power lines. Mammoth traffic jams occurred in some areas, such as Lake-Cook Road west of Arlington Heights Road on the edge of Long Grove and Buffalo Grove, where signals were out.
No tornado warnings were called in because of the storm but the winds from the thunderstorm packed quite a punch.
"The bottom just fell out for a few minutes," said Lt. Tony DeRose of the Countryside Fire Protection District based in Vernon Hills. He reported some downed trees but no severe damage.
By midmorning, crews in Libertyville had cleared debris to make streets passable but cleanup will take two weeks or more, according to Public Works Director John Heinz. The village, like other communities, can't count on significant assistance from others because of the extent of the damage, he said.
Residents in the southern part of the village have been experiencing continuing outages over recent months, and is in the process of a significant project to replace cables to address the problem. About half the village was without power Monday afternoon.
The storm was "significantly worse than the one a couple of weeks ago," Heinz added.
"Today, we can't blame it on Com Ed," said Mayor Terry Weppler.
The Libertyville Civic Center was opened as a cooling center, as was Vernon Hills village hall, and residents were asked to check on the elderly or disabled. Other cooling centers included Gurnee Mills, Vernon Area Public Library and the Highland Park Police Department.
"We're still working with a number of communities to help them with critical facilities that are without power," McKenzie said.
Among them were many of Lake County Health Department facilities, including the main building on Grand Avenue in Waukegan.
"The most important thing is for people to have patience," he said.
• Daily Herald staff writers Lee Filas, Bob Susnjara, Danielle Gensburg, Samantha Bilharz contributed to this report.