Red Eye Chicago

Powerless, in more ways than one


Although ComEd had restored most customers’ electricit­y by Sunday, thousands of residents in Chicago and its suburbs remained without power, facing the common frustratio­ns of spoiling food, seemingly interminab­le darkness and little informatio­n from the power company.

Of the estimated 19,200 in the area still without power as of 8:30 p.m. Sunday, 16,300 were in the north and northwest suburbs, 2,000 were in Chicago and 900 were in the south suburbs, company officials said.

Most of those still without power should get it back by Monday night, except some suburban customers— where serious flooding and tree damage is making it difficult to get to ComEd equipment, said Barry Mitchell, the company’s president.Those customers should be running by Tuesday or Wednesday.

But if residents were united in being literally powerless after violent storms tore through the Chicago area last week, many also were united in how they dealt with the aftermath. Some counted their blessings that their homes weren’t severely flooded. Others passed the time until electricit­y returned with equal parts indignatio­n and good humor.

Take Bruce Newman, 46, for whom the 11th time calling ComEd was the charm.

After three days of being bounced around the company’s customer-service system, listening to a recorded voice tell him just about everything except when his power would be back on, Newman, whose power had been out since Thursday, was finally talking to a live person.

Just getting someone on the phone was a small victory, though one that did little to raise Newman’s spirits.

More than 800 two- or three-man crews working overlappin­g 16-hour shifts had fanned out to restore power since last Thursday, said George Williams, senior vice president of operations for ComEd. To meet the demand, crews had been called in from other power companies in several other states.

Between Thursday and Sunday, about 650,000 outages were reported, and at the peak there were 310,000 homes without power, said a ComEd spokesman.

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