MILWAUKEE — A child and two adults were missing Tuesday after they were swept away in a drainage ditch in Milwaukee a day earlier following severe thunderstorms that brought heavy rains and damaging winds to a wide swath of the Midwest and parts of the South, authorities said.
Crews resumed their search Tuesday morning for an 11-year-old boy, as well as two men, ages 34 and 37, who entered the water in an attempt to rescue the child Monday evening.
Firefighters focused their search Tuesday on three connected tunnels that carry water to the Kinnickinnic River. Search crews did not enter the tunnels Monday night because of dangerous conditions and instead sent a drone inside in an attempt to locate the three, officials said. Names of the missing weren’t immediately released. Police said all three knew each other, but didn’t elaborate.
The water was deep and fast-flowing following the severe storms, which also caused damage in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. And the storms continued to pack a punch as they rolled into West Virginia early Tuesday, where numerous roads were closed by downed trees and power lines.
According to the website PowerOutage.us, which tracks outages nationwide, about 500,000 electric customers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia were without service Tuesday morning.
The storms came as high temperatures and humidity settle in over states stretching through parts of the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes and east to the Carolinas. More than 100 million people were facing combination of heat advisories, excessive heat warnings and excessive heat watches through Wednesday following record weekend temperatures in parts of the West and the Southwest.
In Illinois, a supercell thunderstorm with winds in excess of 80 mph toppled trees and damaged power lines Monday evening as it left a trail of damage across the Chicago area and into northwestern Indiana, the National Weather Service said.
Numerous reports of wind damage were reported along the storm’s path, with Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport recording an 84 mph (135 kph) wind gust, the weather service said. Crews planned to assess the storm damage Tuesday to determine if any tornadoes touched down.
In Bellwood in Chicago’s west suburbs, village officials said winds stripped the roof off an apartment building, injuring a young woman who was hospitalized after being hit by falling debris but was expected to be fine.
“We just heard people screaming that the roof was off, get out, get out,” resident Larhonda Neal told WLS-TV.
In northwestern Indiana, the weather service reported storm damage in Ogden Dunes and said hail 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) in diameter pummeled the Lake County town of New Chicago on Monday night.
In northeastern Indiana, the weather service said a 98 mph wind gust was recorded at Fort Wayne International Airport, the strongest wind the airport has ever recorded, eclipsing the previous record of a 91 mph gust recorded on June 30, 2012. Extensive storm damage and downed trees were reported in Fort Wayne, where winds ripped siding and insulation from the hangar of SkyWest, an aircraft maintenance company southwest of the Fort Wayne airport’s terminal and runways, exposing the planes inside, WANE-TV reported.