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Some South Suburban Residents May Not Get Power Back Until Saturday

A look at how people are coping as ComEd restores power to the region. Meanwhile, Lisa Madigan takes aim at ComEd's proposed rate hike.

Lost power, toppled trees and power lines and other damage in the Southland this week.
Lost power, toppled trees and power lines and other damage in the Southland this week.

Thousands of ComEd customers in the south suburbs woke up on the Fourth of July to their fourth morning without power due to damage from the Monday-night storm that dropped a tornado near Plainfield.

ComEd said some customers may not see power restored until Saturday as repair crews — more than 700 of them, some brought in from nine other states — continue their efforts to repair the storm damage.

But the "make-do" attitude in the immediate aftermath of the storm is giving way to increasing anger and frustration with ComEd — which is seeking a $275 million rate hike next year.

Mary Walsh, an Orland Park Patch Facebook fan, shared this: "(Power has) been out since Monday. I have family staying with me from out of town. Here to bury my mom (Thursday).

"Can't talk to ComEd to complain. They hang up on you."

Orland Park residents also say the out-of-state repair crews tell them they are having trouble finding the damaged power lines. Some of those crews are from states as far away as Massachusetts and Kansas.

HOW PEOPLE ARE COPING

Orland Park's post office was without power for a few days, according to Tim Scallon, who told his fellow Facebookers that he "prepped Tuesday's route with just the skylight."

In Flossmoor, vats of craft beer at Flossmoor Station Brewery were at risk for three days until power was restored on Thursday morning. The managers of the restaurant and microbrewery secured 700 pounds of dry ice to keep the beer cold.

But not before stalking ComEd repair crews. A sign pasted to the front door of the restaurant testified to their dilemma: "ComEd, Please Save the Beer."

“We drove around, and we stalked ComEd trucks. I’m sure they had an APB out on us; ‘if you see two crazy women driving around, ignore them,’” Flossmoor Station general manager Sandi Nelson told WBBM Newsradio.

At the Hog Wild restaurant in Midlothian, a few days without power meant the loss of business and the loss of refrigerated food.

"I still have to pay cooks, I have to throw away food, I have no idea when I can go back to work,” restaurant owner Bruce Moy told CBS Chicago.

Homewood, Flossmoor, Chicago Heights and areas in and around Tinley Park had the greatest concentrations of power outages, according to ComEd's outages map.

ComEd reports that about 430,000 customers lost power this week because of the storm, but says most will have power today. As of Thursday night, about 6,000 customers were still without power. The repair crews set up a base of operations in south suburban Matteson, near the I-57 interchange, as well as operations centers in Palos Heights, Lansing and Joliet.

RATE HIKE LOOMING

As residents endure their week without electricity, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is taking a hard look at the Smart Grid Act, legislation essentially written by ComEd and passed in 2011, and ComEd's latest rate request hike.

If approved, the average monthly electricity bill would increase by about $3 a month in 2015. This year's rate hike increased the average monthly bill by about $5.50 a month, according to the Chicago Tribune.

ComEd wants to secure $88 million in bonus pay for employees through the rate hike, reports ChicagoBusiness.com, which notes that bonuses are based on "reducing frequency and duration of power outages" as well as achieving other operational goals.

The attorney general says it's wrong for ComEd to try to get money from customers to pay its employee bonuses, and filed an objection this week with the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Madigan is seeking a 36 percent cut in ComEd's rate-hike request.

COULD BE WORSE

In Midlothian, Stan and Janet Wright told the SouthtownStar that the two-story house they've lived in for 26 years was seriously damaged when a maple tree crashed through their roof.

As Stan Wright sat in his rocking chair, the tree crashed through the ceiling of his dining room.

"I had water come rushing in and then I started checking around and found one bedroom also got ceiling damage," Wright told the paper.

Wright, whose power was out until Thursday, said he has no complaints about ComEd.

"For the amount of damage and the amount of people they have to take care of, I think they did a great job," Wright said. "There was an army of them out here."

YOUR TURN: What do you think of the ComEd rate hike? Are you still without power? Has ComEd's response been satisfactory?


JOHN F. NEWBURY, PhD July 05, 2014 at 12:52 AM
SMALL GROCERS HAVE BEEN FORCED TO CLOSE BECAUSE OF THE EXTENDED OUTAGES--THEY COULDN'T AFFORD TO TO RE-OPEN!! COM-ED HAS ITS NERVE--WE WERE PROMISED REDUCED/FEWER POWER OUTAGES IF COM-ED GOT ITS LAST INCREASE , INSTEAD WE GOT MORE OF THE SAME CRAP. THERE SHOULD BE NO MORE INCREASES UNTIL COM-ED DEMONSTRATES KEEPING ITS PROMISES!!
SMR July 05, 2014 at 07:20 AM
This was an "act of nature" and not a system failure, I'm sure they're doing everything they can. Also sadly, people will not get reimbursed by ComEd for food lost due to this storm.
bob busch July 05, 2014 at 10:07 AM
Two years ago i had an experience with Com.Ed I would like to share with you.The power went out during a storm. A day later a Com Ed rep, not a repair crew, showed up and began to look over the problem.I got into an argument with her because she didn't even know which pole fed my block.At three am a tree trimming crew showed up but none of them spoke English! They were looking for the branch that had knocked the power line down.Problem was that there was no branch down.then three days after it went off a real repair crew just reset the fuse that had blown down the line.A simple fix totally screwed up because the ComEd rep did not have a clue.
asalazar1214 July 05, 2014 at 10:49 AM
I finally got power back Thursday night. As for their response, we'll get to you when we get to you was a little unprofessional. as for the hike, it's stupid it sucks, but what's the point if fighting. they will find a way to get it, they always do.
clueless joe July 06, 2014 at 01:31 PM
Like many folks in HF, I put my downed branches/tree sections in my parkway. Does anyone know if our local government(s) will be picking up this debris or do we have to make arrangements ourself?

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