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