Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Urgent Storm Information For Chicago Blizzard

February 1, 2011 - Chicago - It's here: Snowmaggedon. Snowpocalypse. Snowzilla. Snow, and lots of it. I'll be brief and just say that a very dangerous storm has just hit Chicago. Here is a list of important information, courtesty of Ald. Mary Ann Smith (48th Ward). Ald. Smith sent this as an email blast at 2:38 pm, just as the storm began to kick the Windy City. A final note: You might want to print this out now, before this blizzard knocks down the power lines near you. While we have been watching the weather predictions, the City has been preparing to deal with the massive snowfalls that are expected and the frigid conditions that are expected to follow. If you find yourself in an emergency situation, call 911 immediately. If you need food, water or shelter or if you see that one of your neighbors is in need, call the Department of Family and Support Services call 311. This department includes Senior Services. Anyone encountering a downed power line should call ComEd at (800)-EDISON, (800) 334-7661 to report the location. The Chicago Public Schools' web site www.cps.edu and the CPS Safety and Security hotline, (773) 553-3030 will have updates on possible school closures. Also, please continue to shovel your sidewalks to the best of your ability. We all have a responsibility to pitch and keep our streets and sidewalks safe for emergency personnel. The City's Plan The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) has developed the following plan for dealing with this storm. "We may potentially be dealing with a storm of historic proportions. If we get the amount of snow that some are predicting, it will be the largest snow Storm to hit Chicago since 1967," warns Ray Orozco, the Mayor's Chief of Staff. In addition to the snow, a Lakeshore Flood Watch is also in effect from Tuesday evening to Wednesday afternoon. Thirty to forty mile per hour winds with gusts up to 60 mph at the shore is expected to create 14-18 foot waves with Occasional waves up to 25 feet. In preparation for the snowstorm: • The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications is activating the Emergency Operations Center (FCC) Tuesday afternoon at noon. The FOC will remain open for as long as necessary. • The Department of Streets and Sanitation will utilize its full fleet. 274 trucks, plus 120 garbage trucks with quick hitch plows. Trucks will concentrate on main routes and Lake Shore Drive so that emergency vehicles can get through. The City has also increased the number of garbage trucks to try and get ahead of this week's garbage collection. • City officials have been coordinating with groups such as the Salvation Army, Red Cross, the Building Owners and Managers Association, Chicago FIRST, Metra and the Department of Transportation to share information and coordinate storm response. • The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) will operate three 24-hour centers, including North Area, Garfield and King. beginning on Wednesday at 7 a.m. through Thursday at 5 p.m. All other centers will be open during regular hours of operation. With more than 4,000 beds in 60 shelters across the city, and the capacity to add more beds as needed, there is no reason for anyone to sleep outdoors. Call 311 for assistance or transportation. DFSS is contacting seniors to encourage them to stay indoors and make arrangements for necessary food, medicine and supplies. All six regional senior centers, 12 satellite senior centers and various nutritional sites will be closed on Wednesday, February 2. Seniors who typically receive meals through at these locations will receive boxed meals Wednesday to last through Thursday. • The Chicago Department of Aviation will coordinate snow removal efforts with the Federal Aviation Administration and the airlines to minimize the impact of weather conditions on airport operations. • The Chicago Transit Authority's snow command team will make sure buses and rail cars can get in and out of garages and yards. Crews will salt bus terminals, turnarounds and garages. Parking lot vendors for CTA Park & Ride lots will be notified to salt and keep parking lots clear. If CTA buses and trains are significantly impacted by the adverse weather conditions, CTA Bus Tracker and CTA Train Tracker information also may be affected. • Chicago Public Schools has sent letters home today with students advising parents on what to expect. Parents, guardians and CPS staff should monitor news reports, the CPS website, www.cps.edu, or the CPS Safety and Security hotline at (773) 553~3O3O (or updates on possible school closures. A decision on whether to order a partial or complete closure of schools and/or a suspension of bus service will be made by the Chief Executive Officer based on the expected conditions Wednesday morning. What You Can Do to Prepare and Be Safe • Call 311 immediately if you are without heat or in need of shelter. • Monitor reputable news sources such as the National Weather Service or local television and radio stations for me latest news and information. • Be sure you have adequate supplies of food, prescription medications, flashlights and batteries (in case you lose power). • Reach out to friends, relatives and neighbors to make sure they are safe and comfortable. If you are concerned about someone and not able to make contact yourself, call 311 and request a well-being check. Parking Bans and Snow Removal • Keep cars off of arterial streets on the snow route system. This is a matter of public safety and allows the City to clear streets more quickly. The ban on parking on arterial streets when there is more than 2-inches of snow on the ground will be in effect, and cars parked on these streets will be removed. However, it would be wise to move cars as soon as possible. 48th Ward streets that affected include Broadway, Clark, Foster, Lawrence, Ridge and Sheridan. For a complete list of streets that are included in the ban, go to the City of Chicago's Snow and Ice Control Information site. • When clearing snow from cars, pile it on the parkway. Never shovel snow into the street. • Shovel out fire hydrants so they are readily available in an emergency. • Clear snow from around garbage carts to assist with garbage removal. Also be sure to bag all garbage and recyclables. This way, if your carts are frozen in, Streets and San will be able to remove the bags. Health Tips The Chicago Department of Public Health offers these practical tips for Chicago residents: • Avoid making unnecessary trips outside. If the task cart wait until the weather improves, let it wait. • If you must go out, limit the time you stay outside. Schedule indoor rest periods in between outdoor activities. Do not let children or pets play outside for long periods of time • Wear several layers of loose, warm clothing when outdoors. Pay special attention to keeping your head, ears, hands and feet warm. • Stay dry, because moisture from perspiration from melting snow---can damage the insulating effectiveness of clothes. • Pay extra attention to your body's daily needs. Drink warm beverages and soup to help your body stay warm, • Avoid alcoholic beverages, which can impair your judgment. Alcohol also dilates blood vessels, which makes the body lose heat faster. • Watch for frostbite and hypothermia. If a person is outside for long periods of time in the severe cold and the areas around their eyes and lips, or the lips themselves, begin to turn grayish white, the person may be experiencing frostbite. Signs of confusion and shivering are all progressive signs of hypothermia (overexposure to winter elements). Action and movement will also stimulate blood flow and distribute warmth throughout the body. A person with frostbite or hypothermia should receive medical care as soon as possible. • Again, check regularly on the well-being of friends, relatives and neighbors who live alone, who are elderly or who have a disability. This is a time when it's especially important for all of us to look out for each other. Related Links Chicago Public School updates City of Chicago - Cold Weather Shelters