Clean up continues in Lake County
ComEd crews slowly turned on power for thousands of Lake County homes as residents set about the task of assessing storm damage, finding a place to cool off or searching for some of life's essentials -- like a bag of ice.
It was the aftermath of the wicked thunderstorm that delivered a one-two punch that first knocked down trees, then knocked out electrical power for thousands of homes from Lake Villa to Fox Lake and Libertyville to Mundelein and put residents in cleanup mode Tuesday.
Ice is slowly becoming a hard-to-find commodity as people line up to purchase necessary bags of it to try and beat the heat until the power turns on.
Theresa Guerriero said she made four stops before finally finding bagged ice at the Shell station on Route 176 and Butterfield Road in Libertyville. The Green Oaks resident said her power was restored Tuesday morning, thanks to a generator that powered her kitchen, refrigerator and sump pump, but not the air conditioning.
"Next year, we're getting a more powerful one for the whole house," she said.
Some people took advantage of cooling centers, including about a dozen senior residents who went to the Fox Lake Volunteer Fire Department Hall on Washington Street overnight, Fox Lake Police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz said.
About half those people returned to their homes later Tuesday, when temperatures dropped to the mid 80s, he said.
"The Fox Lake Fire Department went door to door Monday asking people if they require the use of the cooling center," Gliniewicz said. "It's my understanding that they intend to continue to do that until the power comes back on in Fox Lake."
Fox Lake was one of the hardest hit areas by Monday's storm, that left hundreds of thousands of customers without power a day later.
Clayton Gillaspy, a resident of unincorporated Lake County near Spring Grove, said trees were knocked down throughout his Lotus Woods subdivision, twisting power lines and making streets impassable.
"There are trees down everywhere," Gillaspy said. "On my street alone, there are a half dozen huge oak trees, 40-feet tall, that were completely ripped down."
Mario Martinez, owner of Dockers Restaurant in Fox Lake, used a large generator to keep his coolers cold and was one of only a handful of businesses open.
"We were having a great summer until the power went down," Martinez said. "It's been slow ever since though. Hopefully they get the power back on soon."
The Cook Memorial Library also was doing a brisk business late Tuesday morning as people turned to the library to cool off and entertainment.
"There are a lot of people here because the power is out," said Mary Andrew, a reference librarian. "Yesterday was absolutely wild. Today's a bit better."
Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, which was without power all Monday, also got back on track and reopened at 10 a.m. Tuesday, park officials confirmed.
The damage in Lake County remains significant as trees were uprooted in northern Lake County and ComEd crews continued to reestablish electricity.
ComEd officials said 193,000 people remained without power in the northern region -- including Lake County -- at 11 a.m. Tuesday, including 80 percent of Fox Lake.
ComEd officials reported about 338,000 people remain without power in Illinois as of 11 a.m., but 900 crews in Illinois were working to get the power back on.
A ComEd spokesman said Tuesday night that the utility expects to restore power to 70 percent of affected customers by this afternoon, 90 percent by midnight Wednesday and 99 percent by midnight on July 16.
In a conference call with Libertyville officials Tuesday, the utility said 440 crews were working in Lake County on outages with the help of 116 contractors and power crews from neighboring states.
More crews were expected to arrive Wednesday.
The outages knocked out power to traffic signals and forced businesses and government buildings across the county to close, including the Lake County Chamber of Commerce office in Gurnee and several Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center facilities.
However, the future still looks grim for some as the utility told Libertyville residents that 90 percent of the customers in its North region would be restored by noon Friday -- and the remaining 10 percent could be out until noon Sunday.
"I'd rather let people know it might be out until Saturday," said Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler, who was still without power at his home Tuesday.
Despite the rough conditions, Weppler said the storm has brought out the best in people.
"The storm brought people together," he said. "People are helping one another."