January 21, 2014

City Of Chicago Officials Provide Update On Winter Weather Response And Efforts To Help Keep Residents Safe As Extremely Frigid Temperatures And High Winds Continue

Full Snow Plow Fleet Deployed to Side and Residential Streets

City of Chicago officials today provided an update on the City’s response to the extremely cold temperatures that arrived in Chicago overnight, bringing snowfall and blowing snow along with it. A coordinated citywide response continues to focus on keeping residents – especially seniors and people with disabilities – safe and warm during the extreme cold temperatures.

"Commissioner Williams and I met with Mayor Emanuel this morning to discuss the City's ongoing preparations and response to the frigid weather here in the Snow Command, and we will continue to coordinate the City's response to help keep our residents safe,” said Gary Schenkel, Executive Director of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
“We remind residents to take precautions and to call 311 and we will connect you to City services and resources for assistance.”

Temperatures tonight and tomorrow will be very cold, with the wind-chill factor dropping temperatures to the negative teens. Snow accumulation at Midway Airport has totaled 7.2 inches as a result of last night's snowfall, and there is a 50 percent chance that more snow may be on the way during the day tomorrow.

Now that the snow has stopped and main routes are clear, the entire snow plow fleet of over 280 vehicles and 26 smaller four-wheel drive vehicles are deployed to side and residential streets. Plows will focus on salting and plowing residential streets to ensure roads are passable, and motorists can safely access main routes.

Safety is the City’s top priority, and motorists are urged to be patient when driving during inclement weather, to be cautious and drive according to the conditions.

To view the snow fleet in real time visit www.chicagoshovels.org. For additional updates on snow removal efforts, follow the Department on Twitter @Streetsandsan.

Multiple departments and agencies are working to provide a constant assessment of the situation across the city to ensure the safety of residents as Chicago continues to feel the impact of the extremely cold temperatures and snow accumulation. These efforts include:

  • The Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) reminds Chicagoans that its six community service centers are open from 9 am to 5 pm to provide a refuge from the cold. The Garfield Community Service Center at 10 South Kedzie is always open 24 hours and can connect residents in need of shelter.
  • Additionally, 21 senior centers (which include 6 regional and 15 satellite centers) will also be open during their regular weekday hours for the exclusive use of Chicago's seniors.
  • The Chicago Fire Department does not recommend that residents use space heaters,but acknowledges that people may rely on them during cold winter months. To minimize the dangers of space heaters, the Chicago Fire Department recommends only using heaters that are UL certified as safe and never use an extension cord with a space heater, which can cause the cord to overheat and burn. Most importantly, never allow a space heater within three feet of anything that can burn, especially bedding.
  • Fire officials also encourage residents to check to ensure their carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. With furnaces running during normal cold weather, a small carbon monoxide leak might not be noticed, but with heaters running non-stop to match the extreme cold, that small leak could become a deadly source of fumes. Carbon Monoxide detectors are designed to alert you before you feel sick, so if yours goes off get to fresh air and call 911.
  • The Chicago Department of Public Health reminds residents to take extra precautions to stay warm and avoid hypothermia and frostbite. Residents should avoid unnecessary trips outside, and if it is necessary to go outside, wear several loose fitting layers of warm clothing. When shoveling snow, work slowly and take frequent breaks to avoid exhaustion. Be sure to winterize your home and vehicles, and keep cell phones charged with extra batteries for emergencies.

Due to winter weather conditions in the Midwest, travelers are encouraged to confirm the status of their flight with their airlines throughout prior to heading to airport.

  • As of 10:30 am, airlines at O'Hare report minor delays and have canceled more than 200 flights.
  • Airlines at Midway report a few delays averaging 40 minutes and have canceled more than 30 flights.

The CTA is providing normal weekday service today, and trains and buses are running on every route. CTA recommends that customers get up-to-date bus and train arrival information via the CTA’s website -- www.transitchicago.com, on Twitter @CTA, sign up for Bus and Train Tracker text/email alerts or access Bus and Train Tracker via mobile phones and at rail stations and bus stops.

As can be expected during inclement weather, call volume has increased with the frigid temperatures. Residents are asked to be patient when calling 311, especially during peak call times during the day.

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