urban survival

The “storm to end all storms” hit the Chicagoland area last Monday morning, disrupting rush hour traffic, stopping trains and severing power to over 800,000 homes and businesses. The worst areas hit were the Far Northern suburbs, the communities of Waukegan and immediate surrounding areas, with power outages that could last 5-6 days, officials from ComEd said. The storm hit the area at 8:00 AM, with winds gusting up to 75 mph. It was over within 30 minutes, but the after effects will last weeks.

In one neighborhood alone, residents report that at least one tree per block fell, leaving debris everywhere. One of the newer residents of the neighborhood, a Ms. Brice, said that the neighborhood looked like “a snow globe with leaves instead of snow”. At least 5 streets have been blocked off due to downed trees and/or power lines. The residents have been busy cleaning up the debris, stacking all the branches along the curb, up to 4-feet high, giving an illusion of hedge lined avenues.

Those that were lucky have city water and gas heat and stoves, allowing them to stay in their homes. The unlucky residents are on well water which uses electricity to pump the water up into the home.

Three days after the storm and ComEd is slowing bringing up grids of power. The outages have spanned from Rockford in the Northwest all the way down to the Kankakee are in South. The largest problems have centered around the area of Libertyville/Gurnee/Waukegan area, still leaving over 350,000 residents and businesses without power 3 days after the storm.

Below is the map of the effected area. The red highlighted areas are the hardest hit.

(click to embiggen)

One positive notion about this storm: it is bringing neighborhoods together. Neighbors are helping neighbors clear debris, checking on elderly residents and helping those who are sick or unable to leave their homes. And in a creative way, the storm has redefined how we live on a daily basis: from hanging clothes out to dry to reading at night by candlelight to charging cell phones in their cars. These urbanites are learning how to survive without their power.

How You Can Help
If you have friends or family in these areas, you may want to know how you can help. Sending gift certificates for stores such as Jewel or Dominicks (the 2 largest chains in the Chicagoland area) would probably be the most welcome, since refrigerators and freezers will have to be completely emptied and re-stocked. We’re sure that cash will also be accepted.