Lakefront Trails Reopen After Winter Storm; Repair Crews, Residents Work To Clean Up Area

Rob Hart
January 13, 2020 - 1:06 pm

WBBM Newsradio/Steve Miller

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The lakefront trail has reopened to public use after a winter storm flooded and damaged several areas along Lake Michigan.

Previous closed sections of the path between Fullerton Avenue and Ohio Street, and from 41st to 45th streets, have reopened, the Chicago Park District said shortly before noon.

Crews were still working to remove asphalt torn up during the weekend storm south of Fullerton and between Ohio and Oak streets, the park district said.

People who live along Lake Michigan in the South Shore neighborhood were cleaning up Monday, too, as signs of Saturday's high waves can still be seen up and down the Lake Michigan Shoreline. 

Some examples: the wrought iron fencing along Lake Michigan at 73rd street is caked in ice and a bike chained to the fence is frozen solid. Part of the street is closed off with yellow tape because of a sinkhole that opened at the height of the storm.

John Bloom lives in a lakeshore apartment building.

"See that, that used to be vertical," he said. "The waves broke it."

Neighbor Kimberly Grant said people who lived in her apartment building were essentially trapped inside during Saturday's storm.  If people wanted to leave, she said they would have to grapple with waves that tossed heavy planters like they were toys.

"Those ceramic planters in front of our building weigh about 400 pounds. It knocked them over, so they were rolling around. There were bricks floating down the street as well," she said.

She said the high waves were also pushing cars around a parking lot.

"So the water was pushing cars into other cars, so it was creating accidents, just by the force of the water pushing one car into another," Grant said.

After watching the damage inflicted by Lake Michigan's fury, Grant said she has a new appreciation for the power of nature.

"Water is something else," she said. "You always see it in the movies, but until you see it in real life, it is totally different. When you see how destructive it can be and just the tolls that it takes."

Wind gusts of 55 mph were reported Saturday and waves as high as 20 feet ravaged the shoreline, rendering beaches in the area impassable and sending water over break walls, flooding parking lots and closing lakefront trails.

Several sections of the lakefront path were closed Saturday and Sunday due to high water.

(WBBM Newsradio and the Sun-Times Media Wire & Chicago Sun-Times 2019 contributed to this copy. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)