HARVEY, Ill. - While ComEd has restored power to nearly 600,000 customers following Monday’s severe weather, there are still hundreds of thousands more without power, including nursing homes.
And it may be days until the lights are back on.
"It's a devastation. Impact isn't really the word. It's a devastation,” said Harvey Mayor Christopher Clark.
Clark says his city was already struggling before Monday's storm blasted through, breaking and uprooting hundreds of trees, damaging homes and crushing cars, and snapping utility lines.
"The problem is just trying to get it cleared up and get the lights on. You can't do anything really until your lights are on,” said Harvey resident Mary Johnson.
But that will likely take days because more than a dozen giant utility poles carrying the city's main transmission lines snapped like twigs during the storm.
ComEd has scrambled emergency crews to the scene, but says it's unlikely power will be restored before the weekend, which has created a crisis for Harvey's six senior centers and nursing homes, where on Wednesday volunteers were handing out bags of food and water to seniors whose refrigerators are warm and spoiled.
Complicating all this cleanup is the fact that Harvey is essentially broke, millions of dollars in debt, which is why the mayor is appealing for outside help.
"We don't have those reserves. What we get is what we have and that's all. So we need as much help as possible from the county, from the state, from anybody,” Clark said.
The mayor says he's hoping Governor JB Pritzker will declare Harvey a disaster area, opening the door to state emergency funds.