Watch CBS News

About 2,000 ComEd Customers Without Power Amid Brutal Cold

CHICAGO (CBS) -- About 2,000 homes and businesses in northern Illinois were without power Wednesday afternoon, as record cold has arrived in Chicago.

As many as 57,000 ComEd customers were without power earlier in the day, but by 10:30 a.m., ComEd had that number down to 9,066. By 4 p.m. it was down to about 2,000.

Crews have been working in the frigid temperatures, trying to restore power. As of 8 a.m., the temperature in Chicago was 23 below zero, the coldest it's been since 1985, and the coldest temperature ever recorded on Jan. 30 in Chicago.

Hundreds of those are in Oak Lawn, where crews have been working around the clock to make repairs.

Some people living near 91st and Central in Oak Lawn have been without power since 4 a.m. Village trustee Alex Olejniczak said it's been a dangerous morning.

"We've been going door-to-door to homes just to make sure people are okay. We have the police and fire department out there. We've got warming centers that are opened up; village hall, and over at our pavilion. So right now a lot of seniors and residents are deciding how they're going to handle if it's going to continue," he said.

Olejniczak's home is one of those without power in Oak Lawn. The temperature inside has plummeted to 45 degrees as a result.

He said he doesn't remember having so many power outages in winter before.

"In my time of being a trustee, not in the wintertime like this. We've had power outages in this area, and after we get this all cleared, we're going to have a serious conversation with ComEd, because something like this should not happen," he said. "I'm very concerned about the infrastructure, and we've had issues before. ComEd's done some work to get it more reliable, but this is unacceptable."

One technician working just south of downtown Chicago got into the basket of a cherry picker to check out overhead power lines. Crews were bundled up against the bitter cold, but the wind was not making their job easy.

cold weather work photo4
ComEd workers restoring power Tuesday night and Wednesday (Credit: ComEd)

"Nobody can prepare for this, really, too much. I guess if we've got a little Antarctica or North Pole here, we got it. I always wanted to visit, but I don't think I do," ComEd overhead operator John Lee said.

ComEd said they were doubling up crews, sending extra manpower so they can switch out and take breaks in the extreme cold.

ComEd overhead electric specialist Tony Toney said he was wearing seven or eight layers to keep him warm as he works to fix power outages.

"It's awfully doggone cold out here, but we're managing to do the best that we can at this time," he said.

It's unclear when ComEd will have all the outages repaired.

cold weather work photo6
(Credit: ComEd)
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.