LADY’S LUCK

‘I think how close I was to be­ing dead,’ Rogers Park woman says af­ter fall­ing tree missed her — twice

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY MITCH DUDEK, STE­FANO ES­POS­ITO AND DAVID STRUETT Mitch Dudek and Ste­fano Es­pos­ito are Sun­Times Staff Re­porters. David Struett is a CST Wire Re­porter.

Mirella Moreno shook her head in dis­be­lief Tues­day af­ter­noon as she yanked on a hose stuck un­der a fallen tree near her Rogers Park home.

“I think how close I was to be­ing dead,” she said, a day af­ter a tor­nado fea­tur­ing 110-mph gusts of wind tore through her neigh­bor­hood.

Moreno re­counted how she used the same hose to wash dirt off her feet af­ter work­ing in her gar­den Mon­day and had just walked inside when a neigh­bor’s tree blew over and landed where she’d been stand­ing.

She was for­tu­nate a se­cond time when a por­tion of the same tree fell through a slid­ing glass door and nar­rowly missed her and her hus­band, who were pre­par­ing to cook din­ner on their out­door grill. The grill was crushed.

“I feel so lucky,” said Moreno, who with her hus­band, Adan Moreno, runs the Mex­i­can restau­rant Mas Alla Del Sol in Edge­wa­ter.

The Moreno house suf­fered per­haps the most dam­age on the 1600 block of West Jarvis Av­enue, among the hard­est-hit blocks in the area dur­ing a se­ries of pow­er­ful storms that left nearly a mil­lion peo­ple with­out power, dam­aged roofs and up­rooted thou­sands of trees. No ma­jor in­juries were re­ported, of­fi­cials said.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice said the tor­nado hit the neigh­bor­hood be­tween 4:02 and 4:07 p.m.

Three-mile path

Of­fi­cials Tues­day said the tor­nado, which was about 300 yards wide, carved a path that stretched for three miles from near Touhy and Craw­ford av­enues in Lin­col­nwood to Rogers Park and into Lake Michi­gan, where the weather ser­vice said it turned into a wa­ter­spout.

About 80,000 peo­ple in Chicago were still with­out power Tues­day af­ter­noon, down from a peak of 900,000, ComEd spokesman John Schoen said. Most cus­tomers with­out power will have it re­stored by Fri­day, Schoen said.

“We have crews work­ing around the clock,” he said, in­clud­ing 1,500 em­ploy­ees who came in from out of state.

Neigh­bor­hoods across the city were im­pacted, in­clud­ing on the South­west Side, where more than 4,000 peo­ple, in­clud­ing some liv­ing at two nurs­ing homes, were with­out power Tues­day, said Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th).

On the North­west Side, it peeled the roof off the Shab­bona Field House, at 6935 W. Ad­di­son. A chil­dren’s gym­nas­tics class was un­der­way, but staff man­aged to move the kids to the base­ment, said a woman who works in the build­ing.

But Rogers Park ap­peared to have been hit the hard­est. A large tree at Hamil­ton and Touhy av­enues fell, dam­ag­ing a Buick un­der­neath.

“It was like a gi­ant ripped it out of ground,” said Alya Jawaid, 32, a nurse who lives feet from the fallen tree.

A tree also fell in the play area of Lit­tle

Peo­ple Day­care and Kinder­garten, 7248 N. Rogers Ave., but the 10 kids were all inside at the time.

“We heard a loud boom and a crash and every­one went to the back of the build­ing and laid down,” said em­ployee Iris Henderson. “The kids weren’t scared at all — they ac­tu­ally thought it was cool.”

Demo­cratic state Rep. Kelly Cas­sidy, who lives in the 1600 block of West Jarvis, had taken cover in her base­ment when the air pres­sure sud­denly changed and her ears popped as shin­gles be­gan fly­ing off nearby roofs.

Cas­sidy’s spouse, Can­dace Gin­grich, said they were wait­ing it out in the base­ment when she re­al­ized, “Where is Si­mon?” Their cat was miss­ing.

She ran up­stairs to search, but af­ter see­ing the chaos out­side, quickly de­cided, “Si­mon’s on his own.”

On Tues­day, as she helped clean up the neigh­bor­hood, Gin­grich said she felt lucky be­cause a tree had fallen where she’d been stand­ing out­side mo­ments ear­lier Mon­day. Si­mon was also found un­scathed.

There were no re­ported in­juries on the block, but dozens of trees that formed an un­in­ter­rupted canopy over the block be­fore the storm had crashed into homes, fences and cars.

“The whole ecosys­tem of this neigh­bor­hood has changed,” Cas­sidy said.

35,000 tree calls

More than 35,000 emer­gency calls for tree re­moval had been logged with the city as of Tues­day evening, ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of Streets and San­i­ta­tion. Hun­dreds had been re­moved al­ready.

“We’ll be out un­til all are cleaned,” a depart­ment spokes­woman said.

The city also re­sponded to 375 re­ports of downed wires and nearly 80 mal­func­tion­ing traf­fic lights, ac­cord­ing to Tom Car­ney, first deputy com­mis­sioner of the Chicago Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion.

The last con­firmed tor­nado in Chicago hap­pened in 2018. The cat­e­gory zero twis­ter, the weak­est cat­e­gory, moved across the city’s West Side for four min­utes, span­ning a length of 1.7 miles, ac­cord­ing to the NWS. The twis­ter was 75 yards wide and mostly caused mi­nor tree dam­age.

MITCH DUDEK/SUN-TIMES PHO­TOS

Mirella Morena was us­ing her gar­den hose mo­ments be­fore a neigh­bor’s tree fell where she was stand­ing.

This tree was up­rooted in the 1600 block of West Jarvis Av­enue when a se­vere storm and tor­nado passed over Rogers Park on Mon­day.

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