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Many Still Without Power After Storms

Johnson Family

The Johnson family of Clarnedon Hills has been without power since Tuesday evening. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 06/23/11 5:21 p.m.

CLARENDON HILLS, Ill. (CBS) – Conditions are cool and fairly calm now, but many Chicago area residents remain without power Thursday morning and crews are still cleaning up from two tornadoes that hit the suburbs.

As of 3 p.m., ComEd says 76,000 ComEd customers remained without power as a result of the storms Tuesday evening, most of them in the northern suburbs.

At one point, about 433,000 customers were without power.

The process of restoring power is taking time because of the extent of damage caused by the storm, particularly to ComEd equipment and power lines, ComEd spokesman Antonio Hernandez said.

“We would like to just remind folks to please be patient,” Hernandez said. “We will have nearly 700 crews throughout the day again; working as quickly and as safely as possible to restore all of our customers back on the grid.”

ComEd says 90 percent of those who remain without power should have it back by midnight Thursday night, while the rest should have it back by midnight Friday night.

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But those who remained in the dark were frustrated Thursday morning. The Johnson family of Clarendon Hills was among those still without power more than a day later.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the Johnsons lost their power at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. Fortunately for them, a neighbor was able to step in to keep them from suffering devastating consequences.

“It’s tough, especially with the refrigerators packed with food,” said Bill Johnson, the father of the family. “My son’s having a graduation party on Saturday, and we were getting ready for the festivities, and fortunately we have a neighbor that let us plug into their commercial-size generator, and fortunately, the refrigerators is up and running, and so is our sump pump, so we’re very fortunate that our neighbor was able to let us do that.”

But the Johnsons, who say they are among about 2,500 people still without power in Clarendon Hills, are still frustrated.

“At 8:30, supposedly, it was going to be back on, and here it is 5 o’clock in the morning, and it still isn’t on,” Bill Johnson said.

Kristina Winans of Mount Prospect also remains without power.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports

“We haven’t had power since Tuesday night, and it’s been pretty weird walking around with flashlights all day,” she told WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya.

Meanwhile, some suburban residents are cleaning up after two confirmed EF-1 tornadoes struck. One touched down in Downers Grove, the other in Mount Prospect.

But damage is hardly limited to those areas. Park Ridge experienced the worst tree damage in 20 years, and one tree took down a fence, while another fell on a roof. Yet another tree, near an alley, landed on power lines behind a house.

Fewer than 5,000 Elmhurst homes remain without power, down from around 15,000 right after the storm. Both city officials and ComEd are noting the progress, but some folks are facing a second straight night without power.

Elmhurst officials say the storm downed 300 to 400 trees, and 100 power lines — with the damage spread to every section of town.

Full power was restored Wednesday night at Elmhurst hospital, a critical concern. And the power’s back on for the 40 restaurants and commercial businesses in the city’s downtown.

The storms also caused damage at O’Hare International Airport, where a United Airlines plane was dragged 40 feet by the intense winds. United said the plane sustained minor damage, and no one was onboard at the time.

Everyone was hustled down to the lower level baggage claim due to the storm, CBS News Correspondent Cynthia Bowers reported. Even Vice President Joe Biden had to wait out the storm at the airport, as he prepared to return from an epilepsy fundraiser at Navy Pier.

In Wheeling at Chicago Executive Field – formerly Chicago Palwaukee Airport – hangars were damaged, and an aircraft was upended on the side of its nose.

For Thursday, CBS 2 Meteorologist Megan Glaros says conditions will be breezy with some showers, and cooler temperatures to end the week. But for the Taste of Chicago and the Gay Pride Parade this weekend, beautiful, sunny conditions are expected both Saturday and Sunday, with temperatures in the mid- to upper 70s.