Pass down the 200 block of Marengo Avenue and you’ll often see residents relaxing on brick walls outside the apartment buildings. But at 3:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon, the tenants of 229 Marengo were not just socializing. They were waiting for power to be restored to their building.

Electricity had been off in the 60-unit building since 8 a.m.

229 Marengo has yet to recover from the storms that hit three weeks ago. In the rainstorm on Wednesday night, June 23, lightning struck a utility pole 200 feet behind the building and knocked out power for two days. On Friday, June 25, when ComEd tried to restart electricity to the building, fried insulation caused an electric arc that jumped between circuits, starting a fire in the building’s first-floor electrical panels.

The steel housing melted like ice cream, according to the Forest Park firm called in by the builder’s owners.

“People should see this to understand the power of electricity,” said Rick Kogut of S&S Electric.

After the damage in the building was discovered, S&S arrived that Friday night – along with a diesel-powered generator – and finally restored power to the building.

“We were clapping. We gave them a thumbs-up,” said a female resident, who asked not to be named.

But weeks later, electrical repairs continue: Four new 210-foot four-inch conduits have been laid under the parking lot to reattach the 12 electric cables to the damaged pole. The amp service is being upgraded from 400 to 1000.

Meanwhile, the building’s owners, Russell Schuman and Kevin Schuman, of Barrington and Wheeling, are paying an estimated $7,300 a week – plus fuel almost daily – to keep the semi-sized generator running.

That’s caused some complaints from neighbors who don’t like the noise.

“We’re asking for people to be patient and cooperate with this effort. There are 59 residences that need power,” Fire Chief Steve Glinke told the Review. “It’s a monumental job.”

Glinke says the village used Reverse 911 to alert nearby residents about continued repairs. Reverse 911 is an emergency communications system that taps into a database of addresses and phone numbers. Public safety officials can tap into the system to get a recorded notice out.

According to S&S owner Gus Scolaro, repairs will continue for another two weeks, with at least three other planned electrical turnoffs for the entire building.

Meanwhile, despite the scale of the repairs, residents aren’t complaining about the disruptions. “We really haven’t been inconvenienced,” said another tenant, who also asked that her name not be used. “They let us know that we’d have no power. Most people were at work,” she said, referring to the time the power was off.

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...