MORRIS – Upward of 1,000 Grundy County residents entered their second day without power Wednesday after brutal weather swept across Illinois on Monday night.
Morris was one of the hardest hit by Monday's storms, which meteorologists at the National Weather Service have now determined were two separate "derecho events" that spawned eight EF-1 tornadoes in the National Weather Service's Chicago County Warning Area, which includes Illinois and Indiana. No tornadoes have been confirmed in Morris or Grundy County.
According to the NWS, a derecho is a severe, long-lasting wind storm that can sometimes produce small tornadoes, like it did Monday. The first of Monday's double derecho events hit the area about 7 p.m. The second, more destructive storm landed in Morris at 9:48 p.m. Monday, bringing with it 80 to 90 mph winds that uprooted trees, snapped power lines and damaged property.
"It was a pretty devastating windstorm," Morris Mayor Richard Kopczick said. "It's going to take a while to get back. I think we'll spend 3 to 4 weeks just getting all the brush cleaned up."
No tornado was reported in Morris, but a tornado touched down 4.8 miles west of Lisbon in Kendall County. Others were confirmed at Earlville in LaSalle County, Plainfield in Will County and Grant Park in Kankakee County.
Immediately following the storm, about 90 percent Morris and several surrounding Grundy County communities were without power.
Commonwealth Edison crews began working on power restoration early Tuesday morning, but Wednesday afternoon, Morris Fire Protection & Ambulance District Chief Tracey Steffes estimated about 25 percent of Morris was still was in the dark. ComEd reports were much lower at about 1,000 residents without power Wednesday.
In a news release, ComEd said it would be Thursday night or later before power was fully restored to the community.
Electricity was finally returned to the Morris Water Treatment Plant and water wells about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, following serious concerns regarding the city's shrinking water supply. City officials estimated Tuesday morning that Morris had 10 to 12 hours of water left in reserves, with the wells not drawing new water.
Kopczick expected reserve levels to return to normal by Thursday morning, alleviating any need for residents to conserve water.
As power lines were re-energized, the Morris fire department responded to several small electrical fires caused by debris on the lines, including a small roof fire at McDonald's on Route 47.
"If people see a wire down in their yard they should call ComEd to report it, and understand they may not get someone there before power is restored," Steffes said.
As river levels have subsided, so has the threat of moderate flooding in Morris. The NWS previously predicted the Illinois River near Morris to crest at about 16 feet, but as of Wednesday afternoon, river levels were decreasing after peaking at 14.85 feet Wednesday morning.
The storm also damaged crops in northern Grundy County, with several acres of corn almost laying flat on its side, Grundy County Farm Bureau Manager Tasha Bunting said.
Farmers could be covered through their crop insurance program, depending on their coverage.
Kopczick said ComEd, public works crews and various community members are all working diligently to get daily operations back to normal in Morris.
"It's amazing how this community has pulled together," Kopczick said. "I think everyone is looking forward to taking a break this holiday weekend."
• Morris Daily Herald reporter Heidi Litchfield contributed to this report.
BY THE NUMBERS
• 3 – Weeks before branches and debris are fully cleaned up in Morris • 8 – Number of EF-1 tornadoes that touched down in the National Weather Service's Chicago County Warning Area Monday • 90 – Maximum wind speed reached in Morris during Monday’s storm • 1,000 – Estimated number of Morris residents still without power Wednesday