Western Springs roadways were clear for traffic on Wednesday afternoon, but much of the Village remained without power after Tuesday night’s flash thunderstorm brought down trees and power lines in nearly every neighborhood.
Most downtown businesses were powered and open for operation, although Starbucks and the First National Bank of La Grange were blacked out. Block by block, power began to be restored over the course of the day, but late into the afternoon and evening many homes were still electricity-free.
As daylight dawned, many residents also got their first clear looks at the extent of the damage done to the Village’s prized trees and greenery—which was, in many cases, significant.
On Johnson Avenue in Field Park, resident and mom Laura Timmel found herself in a bind as a felled tree in her driveway was blocking her car—and her kids needed lunch delivered, stat. A tree removal representative was talking to her husband about removal time in days, not hours.
She got a break from neighbor Brooke Murphy, who lent Timmel her own car for a quick jaunt to McDonalds. “People have been really nice,” Timmel said.
“If that thing had been two feet over, it would have landed in my kids’ room, so we’re counting our blessings.”
Indeed, most trees that fell caused no property damage, but on Courtland Circle in Springdale, 34-year resident Patricia Fitzgerald woke to find that a 50-year-old locus tree in her backyard had been torn up by its roots. The felled tree crushed part of fence that separates her backyard from the Lyons Township South athletic fields.
“We weren’t about to take it down, but Mother Nature came along and took it down for us,” Fitzgerald said. “We like the environment, so we’re going to miss this tree.
“[But] we have a grandson, so I said to my husband, always thinking positive, maybe it’ll make a great place for his swing-set!”
Another tree torn completely out of the ground was on 49th Street east of Woodland Avenue, where a half-dozen local kids were taking the opportunity to climb on and explore the fallen timber. “This is our tree!” exclaimed seven-year-old Aidan Stillo proudly.
“This was our tree,” his mom, Kathy, corrected with a laugh. She said that the family, who live at a Woodland Avenue address directly facing the tree on 49th, never heard a sound, and only discovered the damage when they casually checked outside.
“Everybody’s coming to see it,” she said. “It’s like an attraction. Last night there were kids cruising the neighborhood, teenagers getting out to take pictures.”
Perhaps the most spectacularly demolished tree was the one on Franklin Avenue in Field Park, which, with the debris cleared, appears as if split by an arrow from above. A few blocks away, only a stump remains of the Linden Avenue tree blamed for many of the blackouts.
Damaged trees are still sitting on or precipitously near power lines as well, and many areas remain cordoned off by yellow police tape. Piles of branches lined virtually every single street in the Village, ranging from a few scraps to heaps the size of a shed.
Many Villagers were out and about though, cleaning the debris, and some even making use of it for amusement. In Spring Rock Park, young siblings Campbell and Eve Divenere and their friend John Giles took turns beating a fallen tree with sticks.
Electricity may have been hard to find Wednesday. Sticks were not.