One killed in theater roof collapse in Belvidere, while storms bring outages, floods in suburbs
One person was killed and 28 people were hurt after the center of the roof of a theater in Belvidere collapsed as a concert was going on.
The tragedy came as two lines of intense storms raced through northern Illinois and the suburbs Friday evening, bringing tornado sirens in some spots as well as flash floods, hail and power outages.
The Belvidere Police Department said the collapse at the Apollo Theatre occurred as a heavy storm rolled through the area and that calls began coming from the theater at 7:48 p.m., the Associated Press reported. Belvidere Fire Chief Shawn Schadle said 260 people were attending the concert.
The theater's marquee and facade crashed onto the street, littering the area with bricks and debris. Metal bands Morbid Angel, Revocation and Skeletal Remains were scheduled to perform at 7 p.m.; doors opened at 6 p.m., ABC 7 Chicago reported.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker tweeted that his administration is closely monitoring the situation and is in touch with local officials.
Belvidere Police Chief Shane Woody described the theater scene after the roof collapse as "chaos, absolute chaos." Video posted online showed large pieces of debris scattered inside and panicked people looking for people among it.
The National Weather Service had warned of a "particularly dangerous situation" with the potential for intense tornadoes to develop. But there were no reports of tornado touchdowns in the suburbs.
Hail and flash flooding from heavy downpours were reported, and thousands were without power as delays piled up at the airports.
ComEd's outage map at 10:30 p.m. showed more than 54,000 customers were without power across northern Illinois. In the suburbs, outages were most concentrated in DuPage County and in and around Arlington Heights. More than 65,000 were without power earlier in the evening.
Metra said the BNSF line to Aurora stopped its trains due to high winds, ABC 7 reported. The transit agency warned that Union Pacific trains including the West, Northwest and North lines possibly had to stop due to high winds in the area, or travel at reduced speeds.
Crowds were seen via social media building at O'Hare International Airport as delays mounted. An ABC 7 reporter who had a flight said he was among passengers who was told to get off the plane and sent to the lower floor of the airport as storms moved through.
As of 7:45 p.m., O'Hare International Airport was reporting 223 flight cancellations and average delays of 76 minutes. Midway International Airport was reporting 128 flight cancellations and average delays of less than 15 minutes. The FAA-issued ground delay has been extended until 11:59 p.m., with an average delay of 176 minutes due to thunderstorms.
ABC 7 meteorologists Cheryl Scott and Mark McGinnis said the storms moved east at about 60 miles per hour, leaving the suburbs about an hour ahead of the expiration of tornado watches in some areas that the National Weather Service had set until 10 p.m.
In Wood Dale, hail rained down and there were reports of standing water causing problems on roadways. Flash flooding was seen there and on Schaumburg roads. ABC 7 reported a downed power line on Deerpath Road in Aurora creating sparks in water; no injuries were reported. Sirens went off in some Northwest suburbs.
High winds were expected to last into Saturday, with a higher threat south of Interstate 80. Temperatures were also forecast to drop with those winds.
The weather service issued a wind advisory until 1 p.m. Saturday for eastern Will, Grundy, Kankakee, LaSalle and southern Will counties.
"This is a relatively rare, significant severe weather threat for our area," National Weather Service meteorologists warned on the agency's Facebook page.
The Naperville Fire Department's chief said his department was well-prepared for the incoming storms, ABC 7 Chicago reported. The city was last hit by a tornado in February and devastated by a larger one two years ago.
"Father's Day in 2021 at about 11 o'clock at night, we had a tornado come through here, and it was a severe tornado that damaged about 150 homes," Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis said. "You just never know when these things are going to go. So we want to make sure that you're prepared."
The Naperville Fire Department said it was ready to respond to any downed trees, electrical fires, or anyone stranded or trapped.