Extensive storm damage hits McHenry County

The homeowner observes the crews cleaning up the damage caused to his Algonquin home  Wednesday after a tree fell during the storms the night before.
The homeowner observes the crews cleaning up the damage caused to his Algonquin home Wednesday after a tree fell during the storms the night before.

BARRINGTON HILLS – A signal light outage along a stretch of Algonquin Road through Barrington Hills and parts of Algonquin and South Barrington caused major traffic delays during the morning and evening rush hours Wednesday.

The lights were up and running on before 7 p.m., the Barrington Hills Police Department said.

Drivers were advised to avoid Route 62 at the intersections of Brinker Road, Route 59, and Route 59 and Bartlett Road.

ComEd still was dealing with outages to more than 148,000 customers as of 8 p.m. Wednesday in the wake of overnight thunderstorms that packed 75 mph winds.

At least 109,000 customers remained without power at 8 p.m. in the northern region, which includes McHenry County.

“That’s our hardest hit area,” ComEd spokesman Howard Karesh said.

ComEd expects to have power restored to 90 percent of its customers by midnight today, almost 48 hours since the storm hit.

Frustrated eastbound motorists deluged Barrington Hills dispatchers with angry calls Wednesday morning, Police Lt. Rich Semelsberger said.

“We feel badly for the motorists,” Semelsberger said. “It’s not like we’re standing there watching. There’s nothing we’d like better than to keep the traffic flowing, but there’s only so much we can do.”

Semelsberger said police were busy Wednesday morning responding to car accidents and several storm-related incidents, including tripped alarms and reports of downed trees. Further, to safely direct traffic at Routes 59 and 62 would require three officers, and the department was stretched too thin, he said.

“Also, if we were to place officers at 62 and 59, we’d be pushing the problem to 62 and Palatine Road” in South Barrington, Semelsberger said. “That light also was malfunctioning, and I’m sure they were stretched to the limits also this morning.

“Unfortunately, it’s one of those acts of nature,” Semelsberger continued. “Folks just have to be patient.”

Police alerted major area radio stations to get the word out to motorists in hopes that they would select an alternate route.

“People are encouraged to know alternate routes and to use them when a situation like this occurs,” Semelsberger said.

One man who was stuck on Route 62 near County Line Road during the morning rush called the Northwest Herald shortly after 9 a.m. He said a squad was parked in the median near the intersection, and he could not understand why police were not directing traffic.

“There are thousands of cars trying to go eastbound,” said Chris O’Dea of Harvard. “I’m on Algonquin [Road], and it is backed up from Route 31 to Route 25.”

The signal outages are part of widespread power outages that began about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday after high winds from storms downed power lines, ComEd spokesman Tony Hernandez said.

As many as 300,000 ComEd customers were without power initially, including many in McHenry County. By 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, power had been restored to about 175,000 of them.

Damage from the storm was extensive, and some customers could be without power for days, Hernandez said.

Tabrina Davis, who also works for the utility, said ComEd places priority on life-safety issues, trying to restore power first to hospitals, police and fire departments, and then working on feeders that affect large numbers of customers.

Affected customers can call 800-334-7661 for updates. Those who are able can visit www.comed.com.

• Reporter Chelsea McDougall contributed to this report.

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