Violent storms cause damage in Ill. and Ind. - - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Violent storms cause damage in Ill. and Ind.

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Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO (AP) -- Severe thunderstorms plowed across the Midwest during the night, ripping roofs from buildings, chasing people to shelter and blacking out thousands of homes and businesses.

One death was blamed on the storms in Indiana late Monday.

By midmorning Tuesday, storms with locally heavy rain still stretched from eastern Iowa across Illinois and Indiana into Ohio.

Late Monday, the storms set off tornado warnings for downtown Chicago. Fans were evacuated from the stands at Chicago's Wrigley Field, interrupting the Cubs-Astros game, and travelers were evacuated from the upper levels of terminals and planes at O'Hare International Airport.

The National Weather Service did not immediately confirm any tornado touchdowns.

The storm tore roofs and siding from homes Monday night at the northern Indiana town of Griffith, and Town Council President Rick Ryfa said officials declared a disaster area in the town.

"It looks like a war zone," Ryfa said.

Near Michigan City, Ind., a tree fell on a car and killed the 23-year-old driver, LaPorte County Deputy Coroner John Sullivan said.

Widespread tree and power line damage was reported in northeastern Illinois.

ComEd spokeswoman Pam Anton said 225,000 of the utility's customers were without power early Tuesday. Because of the number of downed lines, it will be several days before power is completely restored, she said.

The Northern Indiana Public Service Co. reported 63,000 customers without power early Tuesday.

Travelers at O'Hare International Airport were evacuated into the lower levels of the complex's buildings. All flights were temporarily halted, and travelers who had already boarded airplanes were taken off and also were sent to the lower levels as a precaution.

"It was pretty cramped down there, the whole terminal was down there," said George Wickens, 50, of London, who was trying to travel to Florida with his family.

The storms did not cause any damage or injuries at O'Hare or Midway Airport, said Department of Aviation spokesman Gregg Cunningham. However, more than 350 flights were canceled at O'Hare.

Security guards at Chicago's Ogilvie Train Station, just off the Chicago River, ushered people away from large glass windows and into the middle of the building.

"The lightning between the buildings was looking ominous," said Michaela Nelson, 58-year-old singer from Barrington. "And then it just poured."


Associated Press Writers Caryn Rousseau, Megan Reichgott and Jason Straziuso in Chicago, Sports Writer Rick Gano in Chicago, and Associated Press Photographer Michael Green contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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