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Updated 7/1/12 at 9:30 p.m.
CHICAGO (STMW) – Severe thunderstorms moved through Chicago Sunday afternoon with high wind and hail, and 155,000 customers were still without power by late evening.
In Chicago, the city’s 911 center received nearly 200 calls about fallen trees and branches, according to a statement from the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications. The 911 center also received 50 calls of downed wires and was notified of 35 street light outages, the statement said, adding that city crews were being deployed.
Kayakers rushed out of the Chicago River as the storm hit, and people on the streets ran for cover in downtown at 1:15 p.m. More than 60 kayakers were rescued from the Chicago River after their kayaks flipped when the storm blew in about 12:50 p.m. near Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street, Fire Media Affairs spokeswoman Meg Ahlheim said.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Mitchell was caught in the severe weather on Lake Shore Drive.
Two police Marine Patrol boats as well as Near North District officers on land assisted fire officials with the rescue, police News Affairs Officer John Mirabelli said. Kayakers were also rescued from the 300 block of North Canal Street.
ComEd said 108,00 customers were still without power in their North service sector, and 37,000 lacked electricity in Chicago; another 1,500 were waiting for power to be restored in the South and West regions.
Particularly hard hit was the far west suburb of West Chicago. Mayor Ruben Pineda said virtually the entire community was without power, and some residents may not have it for the next two or three days.
In Hyde Park, the sky suddenly turned black, surprising drivers and pedestrians. Branches were breaking off trees. Then just as suddenly, the storm cleared, a witness said.
The severe thunderstorm warning affected parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Will, Kendall and LaSalle counties, according to the weather service.
The storm delayed the start of the Chicago Cubs game against the Houston Astros, which had been scheduled to start at 1:20 p.m. By 1:25, crews were coming out to remove a tarp covering the field. While fans are sat under protected areas or in the concourse, the sky suddenly brightened, and no rain fell.
The severe thunderstorms come as temperatures in Chicago are expected to continue hovering in the 90s, according to the National Weather Service.
Since Wednesday, the city’s 911 center has received almost 80 heat-related calls, and the Chicago Fire Department has made 72 heat-related transports, city officials said. The city’s Department of Family and Support Services has made 81 well-being checks, and cooling center throughout the city receive 181 visits, officials said.
Gary Schenkel, the head of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, urged Chicagoans to be mindful of the heat.
“It is important to treat extreme heat temperatures as you would any other emergency,” Schenkel said. “Taking the necessary precautions can prevent heat-related emergencies and ensure safety while enjoying summer activities.”
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