Buildings Evacuated in Downtown Chicago As High Winds Whip Debris

Fire officials said debris was falling from a nearby building at 150 N. Riverside

Residents of several downtown Chicago buildings were evacuated Friday after dangerously strong winds in the area began tossing debris.

The high-rise buildings at 150, 180 and 191 N. Wacker in the city's Loop were being evacuated just before 3:30 p.m., according to the Chicago Fire Department.

Fire officials said debris was falling from a nearby building at 150 N. Riverside and 44 W. Lake St.

"We were all just looking at the windows, they sent an email out in the building telling people to move away from the windows and then maybe a half hour later they said they came on the speakers and said to evacuate via stairwell," said Chris Anderson, who was among those evacuated from the 26th floor of a building at 191 N. Wacker. 

Wacker Drive in Chicago was closed from Franklin to Randolph and Lake Street was closed from Wacker to Canal. Randolph Street was also closed from Wacker to Canal, according to Office of Emergency Management Executive Director Gary Schenkel. 

The debris also caused closures on the Chicago Transit Authority's Green and Pink Lines. 

The whipping winds caused thousands across the Chicago area to lose power.

The National Weather Service issued a Wind Advisory that was soon upgraded to a High Wind Warning. The warning went into effect at 9 a.m. and will remain until 6 p.m.

Chicago Samaritans, including our own Byron Miranda, jumped to the aid of a woman nearly being blown away in the dangerous winds tearing through the city Friday afternoon.

Winds were forecast to be strong and potentially damaging, with gusts reaching upwards of 50 mph.

Schenkel said the city had 227 tree emergencies as of 5 p.m. Friday and one Streets and Sanitation worker was injured by the damage. The worker was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital for treatment, Schenkel said.  

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