Storms hit the Lake County area Wednesday night, including in Round Lake Beach and Antioch.
A woman and her three children were rescued from a Round Lake Beach retention pond during a storm Wednesday that also knocked out power to thousands of people when trees were knocked over by 70 mph winds onto power lines and houses in the Loon Lake area.
Round Lake Beach Deputy Police Chief Michael Scott said that around 9:30 p.m. dispatchers received a call of a vehicle that went into a retention pond at 906 E. Rollins Road, just east of the Rollins Road railroad underpass near a Pizza Hut, and the occupants were trapped inside.
"Due to the large amount of rain, the retention area on the south side of the parking lot was filled to the point where the driver thought it was part of the parking lot," he said.
"The vehicle was quickly submerged to its roof with children ages 3, 5 and 7 years old inside," he said. "Two good Samaritans who witnessed the incident, Blaine Smith and Stephen Aversano, swam to the vehicle and rescued the occupants from the vehicle."
When rescue crews arrived, they found Smith and Aversano were already working to save the people, first the three children and then their mother, Scott said.
Smith said he was just leaving Tacos El Norte in the same retail strip when he noticed a man swimming through the water towards the back door of a vehicle that was sinking fast.
"I just jumped out of the car to help him," Smith said Thursday.
"I could hear the kids screaming and crying," he added, describing the moment he approached the vehicle in waist-deep water.
"By that time, (Aversano) got the back door open and he handed me one of the babies — they were really young — and then another," he said. The second child was momentarily hung up when a foot got caught in a seat belt, he said.
After taking the children to dry land where people were gathering, they went back for the driver, who Smith said was in a state of shock.
"I tried to open her door, but it wouldn’t open," he said, noting that the water was above his shoulders on her side of the vehicle, and it was angling into deeper water.
When the door wouldn’t open, he told Aversano to try and get her out from his side of the vehicle and he successfully pulled her into the back seat, and then out of the vehicle, before it became 90 percent submerged.
"Another 15 seconds, and the whole car would have been submerged," Smith said. "I think (the mother) was in such a state of shock that she was frozen from panic."
"I like to think that other people would have done the same thing," the 43-year-old Lake Villa resident added. "I’m just glad that everyone was OK."
Scott said no one was seriously injured.
In the Loon Lake area near Antioch, a strong wind sheered trees off about 8 feet off the ground, and there was a swath of damage 300 feet wide that went from the east side of the lake, through the Clublands of Antioch subdivision and all the way to Route 45, according to Antioch Fire Department Fire Chief John Cokefair.
"It was about a 300-foot-wide path of destruction," he said.
"There were quite a lot of trees down on sheds, garages and houses in the east Loon Lake area," he said. "And quite a few power lines were down, but there were no reported injuries.
"The trees were sheared off about 8 to 10 feet up. It was interesting to see," he said, adding that he wouldn’t hazard a guess as to whether it was a tornado or a micro-burst.
Meteorologist Matt Friedlein of the National Weather Service said Thursday it was a straight-line wind surge that probably hit about 70 mph.
"We suspect from the physical evidence that winds were at least 70 mph to be able to cause that damage," he said, adding that a tornado would have left circular evidence, and a micro-burst is when wind comes straight down and then rushes out when it hits the ground.
Both a severe thunderstorm warning and a flash flood warning were issued for Lake County during the storm. The National Weather Service said the flash flood warning was issued for Lake County around 7 p.m. and there was a total of 2 to 3 inches of rain that fell across the northern half of Lake County. There were reports of more than 3 inches of rain in the southern half.
According to ComEd spokesman Royce Strahan, during the height of the storm, there were 44,000 customers without power in their service area, which spans Chicago and a six-county area, and northern Illinois to Rockford.
"Rockford was the worst hit," he said. The weather service reported 4.11 inches of rain fell in Rockford, a record for the date in that city.
By Thursday afternoon, there were still 10,000 customers without power. "That number is steadily going down, because we have a number of crews out right now to restore power safely and quickly," Strahan said.
On Thursday, there were still 508 customers without power in Lake County.
Friedlein said the weather service was forecasting that Thursday night’s storms would not be as strong in Lake County. There is a chance of rain Friday night, and then a drying out period Saturday. Late Sunday there is a chance of showers, and Monday and Tuesday also have a chance of showers, but not severe thunderstorms, he said.