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Power outages plague south suburbs, Joliet

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Updated: July 27, 2013 6:26AM



People who still were without electricity Tuesday could be waiting until Wednesday night — and maybe longer — for the power to come back on, ComEd said.

The storm that blew through the area late Monday afternoon knocked down trees and knocked out power in Joliet and other areas. The south suburbs were hit the hardest, ComEd said, and those areas could be the last to get power restored.

The strength of the storm was evident in the tree sprawled across the front of Jyme Shepherd’s house in the Crystal Lawns subdivision, located near the Louis Joliet Mall. The tree, like others in the neighborhood, was being whipped by the high winds. This one cracked.

“I looked out the window, and the tree was coming at me in a spiral motion,” Shepherd said. “I couldn’t believe it. And all of a sudden, it just stopped.”

ComEd said winds were as high as 75 mph in some areas.

As of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, ComEd counted 44,000 customers still without power. Of those, 34,000 were in the south suburbs.

About 3,300 customers in Joliet were still without power by Tuesday evening, ComEd said.

The effort to restore power in Joliet was set back by a new outage that occurred in the business district near the Louis Joliet Mall in midafternoon.

The mall itself had power. But many businesses along Route 30 were closed, including Dunkin’ Donuts, Diamand’s Restaurant, and the Shell gas station. The Target store was open but the refrigerated food section was not open to customers. And The Home Depot was operating on dim lights.

Stop lights along Route 30 were out, creating long lines of cars during the afternoon rush hour as Joliet police directed traffic. The ligts were still out at 7 p.m., although traffic was lighter.

ComEd spokesman John Schoen said the company did not have an explanation for the mall-area outage, which occurred during calm weather.

“Sometimes there are secondary outages,” Schoen said. “When a storm like that comes through, sometimes a branch falls late. It’s hard to say.”

Schoen said crews were working on the outage, but he did not have an estimate for when power would be restored.

John Halbesma, who lives in Crystal Lawns, still had no power by midafternoon and said he was not sure when he would get it.

“As of this morning, they said it could be Thursday,” he said.

Wilshire Boulevard, where Halbesma lives, was lined with fallen tree branches awaiting pick-up. Much of the debris in the subdivision had been cleared away by Plainfield Township road crews that started picking up and chipping branches Monday night.

Halbesma said he watched the storm move across Essington Road into the neighborhood.

“You could see the trees just bending and whirling around,” he said.

The high winds seemed to last about 30 seconds, he said.

Ann Macdonald, another Crystal Lawns resident, said, “It was really quick. It was like a microburst.”

The National Weather Service in Romeoville had spotty information about wind speeds and no measurements from Joliet. But a meteorologist said winds of 80 mph were measured in Mazon in Grundy County. In Romeoville, the highest wind speed measured was 65 mph.



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