Updated 07/05/12 – 6:15 p.m.
WEST CHICAGO, Ill. (CBS) — Though they were without power for days, neighbors in one hard-hit part of West Chicago have high praise for ComEd crews who’ve been working around the clock.
As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, ComEd said Thursday that its crews had restored power to more than 99 percent of the customers throughout Northern Illinois who lost power during a fast-moving storm this past Sunday.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
ComEd said 412 customers remained without power as of 4 p.m. Thursday, all of them in the west and near west suburbs. The utility company is expecting to have all power restored by the end of the day.
Lisa Dewey’s family had power restored on Tuesday night, but on the 4th of July, she was with friends who were still out, and very understanding.
“This is an area of a lot of trees, and a reason why we like to live here, but it has been the longest to get back up because of the poles. The trees hit the poles, and so – fortunately, my house has a lot of trees, but they didn’t do the damage that they did just down the block here,” Dewey said.
Dewey’s friend, Debbie Black, was among those with generators to keep all the food and ailing people cool.
“We’re prepared. We have meds in there. We have a generator hooked up to a freezer. These guys have been working nonstop, so no complaint. I think that it’s uncomfortable, but there’s people in worse situations,” Black said.
Meantime, in nearby Lombard, residents were simply hoping they don’t have to spend another night without power, after having to spend the Independence Day holiday sweating out record heat.
“The 4th came and went, and we didn’t enjoy any of it,” Lombard resident Gayle Schanel told CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli.
She couldn’t enjoy the holiday, because her Sunset Avenue home felt like something out of Dante’s Inferno on Thursday, having gone without power since the storm hit around noon on Sunday.
“Night is horrible. Right now, it’s not too bad, but by three- four-o’clock In the afternoon, my thermostat doesn’t even read anymore, it’s well over 100 degrees in the house,” Schanel said.
She’s not alone. Further south, on Washington Boulevard, Ryan Cullinan has been spending the past few days wearing as little as possible.
“It’s been bad. It’s been a couple of tough sleeps,” he said.
It has been so tough, in fact, that last night he phoned a friend.
“I stayed over at a friend’s house last night, because I couldn’t handle the no power. It’s a tough sleep, or a no sleep,” he said.
As tough as nights are, for those forced to work in the heat, the days can be tougher.
Asplundh tree service worker Alex Luna said it’s been brutal working in the heat, “but we gotta do what we gotta do.”
That means clearing away broken branches and trees that have taken out power lines, sometimes high above the ground.
Luna said he’s never done a job this tough before, as far as the heat goes.
ComEd crews have been working 16-hour days since the storm hit, mostly in dangerously hot conditions.
“We have to watch each other, and make sure everybody’s doing okay,” ComEd crew leader Bob Kilcoyne said.
When they’re not removing trees, and repairing the wires tangled among them, they’re often watching for air-conditioned busses the company has hired to provide its crews with a place to cool off.
Some of the folks in Lombard have jokingly started referring to themselves as the one percent — that is. the decidedly unlucky one percent still without power in the wake of the storm.
More than 300,000 people were left without power in the immediate aftermath of the Sunday storms. West Chicago was hit the hardest, as the storm ripped down trees and power lines and knocked out power even to the city hall.