ComEd says all power to be back Thursday
After three days without electricity, roughly 1,000 customers remained without power Thursday morning, but thousands more had service restored.
A ComEd spokesman said crews are working to get power back up and all lines are expected to be restored today.
"Now they are being dispatched more to individual locations," spokesman Tom Dominguez said. "We have been working round the clock. We still can do it by Thursday."
Cook County communities have the highest number of residents still without power after a snowstorm that hit overnight Sunday, followed by DuPage County, Lake County, Kane County and McHenry County.
Among the hard-hit towns are Mount Prospect, Des Plaines, Park Ridge and Arlington Heights, where Village Manager Randall Recklaus criticized ComEd's response.
Recklaus said Tuesday the village had the second-highest number of outages and that ComEd promised to respond in force to the storm, but did not follow through.
ComEd President and Chief Operating Officer Terry Donnelly met with village leaders Wednesday to smooth things over and reassure them of efforts to restore power there and improve response time.
"We all know that this is a unique storm ... We're actually hoping the vast majority (of customers) are on today," Tim McGuire, ComEd senior vice president of distribution operations, said Wednesday.
Some customers in the hardest-hit areas, including Arlington Heights, Palatine and Villa Park, won't have service restored until today, officials said.
It couldn't come too soon for Des Plaines resident Jim Leazer, who endured more than two days of a cold, dark house while nighttime temperatures dip into the teens.
After missing two days of work, Leazer was relieved when a ComEd-contracted crew finally arrived Wednesday to fix a blown transformer in his neighborhood off Cordial Drive.
"We've been without power since midnight on Sunday," said Leazer, adding the 107 neighborhood residents feared power wouldn't be restored until Friday, from earlier estimates. Until this week, "the worst we've ever been out is 12 hours. I've been here 37 years," Leazer said.
About 350,000 Chicago-area ComEd customers lost power in the storm. That dipped to 42,000 by the second day after the blizzard. By Wednesday morning, the number was 6,000.
Roughly 800 ComEd employees and about 260 contractors have been working 16-hour shifts to get customers switched back on.
After an eight-hour rest, they go right back out.
"Once we realized the size and devastation from this particular storm -- it impacted our entire 11,000-plus-square-mile territory -- we began to make calls early Monday morning for help, mostly (from) out of state," said McGuire, adding Midwestern electric utilities and their contractors already were overwhelmed. "It turned out to be a bigger storm than we anticipated."
Though working conditions have been harsh and icy, workers generally have received a warm welcome from customers who sometimes bring out coffee, McGuire said.
Downed tree limbs and storm debris have presented a challenge for workers, but the toughest part has been dealing with iced-up poles and snow-laden trees with precariously hanging branches.
"They really hate to work in heavy snow and icing conditions, which is what we have right now," McGuire said. "This is really an ice storm followed by a snowstorm. It is not something they deal with every year or every other year. It's an occurrence that's rare here."
To view a map of outages, visit outagemap.comed.com/.