Blanche Scodius was watching the Cubs game Thursday afternoon in her fourth floor apartment at the Altenheim when her lights flickered once and then again before the power finally went out. The 82-year-old was plunged into darkness for the next 19 hours before power was restored late Friday morning.
“I just sat here and didn’t know what to do,” Scodius said.
Fortunately, Scodius and other Forest Park residents escaped the worst damage that a vicious storm inflicted on the Chicago area Thursday afternoon. Winds reached speeds of up to 80 mph in some locations and huge lighting bolts flashed across the sky as thunder exploded.
A few hundred area residents were still without power on Aug. 28, according to utility companies, though electricity was expected to be restored by the end of the day.
“I’m pretty old and I’ve seen a lot of storms,” Scodius said. “Maybe my memory is getting bad, but I can never remember seeing anything like it.”
From Madison Street to Jackson Avenue west of Desplaines Avenue was without electricity from approximately 3:30 p.m. on Thursday until almost 11 a.m. on Friday.
The entire Altenheim complex, consisting of two five-story apartment buildings and an administrative building was without electricity the entire time.
But Scodius and her neighbors made the best of it. She opened her windows and her door to get some ventilation. She used a flashlight and when it got dark she lit a few candles.
The elevators were out along with the lights so she decided not to venture down the four flights of stairs and stayed in her apartment.
“You couldn’t go anywhere or do anything because you couldn’t see,” Scodius said.
She dined on some crackers and warm pink lemonade and kept abreast of developments listening to her battery operated radio.
On Friday morning Scodius’ power clicked back on.
“I went into the shower at 10:15 and when I came out the lights went on,” Scodius said.
The only damage at the Altenheim was some downed branches, Altenheim Director Gayle Fahey said. The residents got through the storm without any major problems, but it wasn’t much fun.
“No one likes to be in the dark overnight,” Fahey said. “There was a little anxiety that it would continue for days.”
The Forest Park Fire Department closely monitored the situation and made sure everyone was all right at the senior housing center.
“The fire department checked in several times,” Fahey said. “They were very good.”
In other parts of town the damage was mostly limited to downed tree limbs. Three cars were damaged by a falling tree in the 400 block of Desplaines Avenue, according to Village Administrator Michael Sturino. A long branch fell across Harlem Avenue just north of Randolph Avenue on Thursday afternoon and blocked traffic.
Village employees worked late into the night to clean up the damage the storm left in its wake. Nine public works employees worked until 1 a.m. to clear debris, Sturino said. Police and fire department personnel made checks throughout town to make sure people were OK.
“Village staff showed, yet again, that they are capable of rising to the challenges they are confronted with,” Sturino said.