OEMC releases Chicago Blizzard 2011 report

Several accidents- including a CTA bus- happened in quick succession on Lake Shore Drive Tuesday evening, according to Raymond Orozco, Mayor Richard M. Daley's Chief of Staff.

June 20, 2011 3:11:56 PM PDT
Four months after hundreds of drivers were stranded during the Blizzard of 2011, the city released a report on how to deal with future blizzards and the closure of Lake Shore Drive.

The After Action Report (AAR) was ordered by former Mayor Richard M. Daley following the February, 1, 2011, blizzard that brought LSD to a halt and stranded drivers for hours. Cars, buried in snow drifts on the road, were left behind.

More than 20 inches of snow fell in Chicago in just a few hours. The City of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) calls the circumstances of the Blizzard of 2011 "extraordinary." However, city officials say there are still lessons to be learned.

"I thought it was a fantastic response to the unprecedented snowfall for 2011," Gary Schenkel said. Schenkel, who took over as director at OEMC last month, compared Chicago's response to the February blizzard to storms he experienced in Washington, D.C.

The 12-page AAR was put together by former OEMC director Jose Santiago. It outlines several areas of improvement and many of those recommendations focus on Lake Shore Drive, which was shut down at 8 p.m. on February 1. According to the report, it took 33 hours to clear LSD and reopen it. Nearly 500 cars were relocated.

The report suggests clearly identifying triggers for a systemic shutdown of LSD; staging more town trucks nearby during extreme weather; and more breaks in the median to help with traffic flow. The OEMC has already implemented some changes, including the installation of more surveillance cameras for better visibility.

"We weren't just watching Lake Shore Drive. We were watching the city of Chicago," Santiago said.

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