Chicago Winter Preparedness Plan Improvements

December 27, 2011 10:50:36 AM PST
The Office of Emergency Management and Communications advises Chicago residents to plan in advance in the event of a winter weather emergency.

As Chicago prepares to embrace another bitter-cold season with predicted forecast of record-breaking snowfall, OEMC is urging residents to prepare a winter weather emergency kit and make a related plan for home, work and the places that their family frequents.

The winter season is the time of year when many plans are interrupted or cancelled due to weather related emergencies. Weather emergencies can have an impact on road conditions, contribute to flight delays and cancellations, prohibit one's ability to get to and from work, require additional vehicle maintenance, as well as affect one's health.

The OEMC is the agency tasked with coordinating the City of Chicago's response to extreme weather conditions. The OEMC coordinates resources and assists other City departments, utilities, public and private sector partners involved in tasks such as law enforcement and emergency medical response operations.

"Weather emergencies never happen at a convenient time, being prepared reduces the initial impact of the emergency. The city of Chicago is better prepared when city departments and the residents of Chicago work together to prepare in advance," said OEMC Executive Director Gary W. Schenkel.

Various city of Chicago departments are prepared for winter weather emergencies by ensuring that the services needed the most during winter are available to the residents of Chicago. Following the historic February 2011 snow blizzard, the OEMC conducted an After Action Report to recap the successes and identify potential areas of improvement.

As a result of a successful After Action Review the city has implemented several improvements that will assist in response and recovery in large scale winter weather emergencies. Some of the highlighted improvements will consist of: utilizing a coordinated plan to close off major aerial streets, including Lake Shore Drive, if conditions warrant, revising Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) protocols to reroute buses in severe weather conditions, developing an enhanced notification distribution list for large scale incidents.

The Department of Transportation has completed construction to provide additional median cuts on Lake Shore Drive at Armitage and Schiller Street. This addition will provide turnaround access to both north and southbound lanes in an emergency situation. This improvement will also allow space for buses, emergency vehicles and cars to pass through. This improvement began in late October 2011 and the openings will use movable concrete barrier sections that would remain closed at all time and only opened during extreme weather events, or for emergency situations. The Armitage and Schiller Street locations were chosen because they are prone to snow drifting and have limited emergency access.

The lessons learned from February 2011 snow blizzard have been used to plan and prepare for significant events in the future. As we move into the 2011/2012 winter season the OEMC and the City are prepared to assist residents during the winter season.

The OEMC reminds Chicagoans that it is our shared responsibility to be a good neighbor. If you or someone you know needs assistance, please call 311 to receive information on city services and resources available in your community.

Another viable and FREE emergency notification tool provided by OEMC is Notify Chicago. Notify Chicago provides residents with text and voice messages that provide emergency related information. Register to receive emergency notifications via Notify Chicago at or for people with disabilities or seniors to sign up for the Voluntary Emergency Assistance Registry, see the OEMC website at

OEMC encourages families to Build A Kit, Make A Plan and Be Informed.

The Office of Emergency Management was established in 1995 to coordinate the City's delivery of Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Services resources. OEMC operates Chicago's public safety communications system, managing emergency situations and coordinating major events, 311 and 911 Communications Operations. For more information visit our website at or "like" us on Facebook at

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