City of Chicago releases report outlining response to historic cold

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CHICAGO — A report released Sunday outlines the City of Chicago's response to the extreme cold of the polar vortex  earlier this month as it shut down much of the city and created sometimes dangerous weather conditions.

Prior to the extreme weather, city leaders pulled together 33 agencies at the Office of Emergency Management, which became the central hub for coordinated efforts. The city placed a large focus on social services that catered to vulnerable populations like the homeless, seniors and those with disabilities. This included dispatching five warming buses for the homeless and adding more than 500 shelter beds.

After the cold arrived, Mayor Emanuel and department heads met at the OEMC to discuss and address the latest needs — everything from snow and ice removal to water main breaks.

The worst weather came over a six-day day period between January 27 and February 1, during which four weather advisories were issued as snow fell and the wind chill dropped to dangerous levels. Chicago saw record low windchill temperatures of 50 below zero, and much of the city halted to a stop as businesses and schools closed.

The city said it performed more than 70,000 well-being checks on residents during that period. More than 900 complaints of no heat were addressed, and the city created more than 270 warming shelters in neighborhoods across Chicago. The city’s help center at 3-1-1 received more than 36,000 calls about services.

The city is compiling its report in the hopes of capturing best practices and lessons learned for future extreme weather situations.


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