Chicago-area residents deal with extreme cold

January 4, 2010 4:47:13 PM PST
An arctic blast has Chicagoans in a deep freeze. And temperatures won't be getting much warmer any time soon. South suburban Lansing resident, Ngina Ali says she's more worried about the cold than ever especially since the furnace in the house she rents went on the fritz.

"I'm thinking about going to a hotel today. That's how cold. It's supposed to get into the single digits sometime this week," said Ngina Ali, Lansing resident.

Ali's landlord and owner of the home says repairs to the furnace will be made.

It's just one example of how many around Chicagoland are struggling to cope with the area's deep freeze. That has even the most hardy winter weather enthusiasts feeling a chill including the McKeants visiting the Magnificent Mile from Michigan.

"It's not this cold there. A ton of snow. You can move snow. You can't move cold," said Alicia McKeants.

Chicagoland's stuck in a new year deep freeze as arctic temperatures gripped the area again meaning another struggling for survival for homeless Vietnam veteran Frederick Bowman.

"This is extreme cold and yes, when I'm under blankets but I have to come out," said Bowman.

Over the next few days, there may be little chance over any relief. That has some deciding to take our winter weather in stride.

"I'm used to this weather. I live here, been here all my life, 47 years," said Theresa Burkett, Chicagoan.

Chicago copes with bitter cold over weekend

The wind chills were dangerous over the weekend. But the weather was not keeping everyone inside Sunday, especially parishioners at Holy Name Cathedral.

"It's God first. Even though weather is terrible, we've still got to go to church," said Alez Alverez.

"During this time of year, it's important we get out no matter what the weather is, and that's one of the things you expect living in Chicago," said Peter Canalini.

As Alverez, Canalini and other parishioners moved out of Mass, many did not seem to be fazed by the cold. Some people were wearing unzipped jackets, and there were plenty of hatless heads.

Before returning to work Monday, after being off for a couple weeks, one area resident said he had to get a haircut and go grocery shopping, despite the bitter cold.

"I grew up in northwest Indiana. So, I've been around this all the time, but I think Chicago is one of those cities where you're always sort of prepared," Nick Hummer said.

In this kind of weather, Chicago Department of Human Services workers say they are prepared for well-being checks. Workers found an older person living without heat Sunday in one Chicago home, but they were unable to convince the resident to leave.

"A lot of times, they are elderly, they live alone and they don't want to go into the shelter or anywhere. So, there's pretty much nothing we can do but offer services at that point," said the department's Oneika Owens.

City firefighters were busy Sunday morning fighting a blaze on the South Side in the Gresham neighborhood. While firefighters do wear more protective gear for the cold, working in harsh conditions proves to be a challenge.

"It's slows down the work time. Everybody is working a little bit more cautiously," said Deputy District Chief Jim Mungovan of the Chicago Fire Department.

One firefighter suffered second-degree burns while battling the fire. He was taken to Stroger Hospital in stable condition.

Meanwhile, lake-effect snow caused problems in parts of northwest Indiana over the weekend.

State police reported a few minor crashes and spinouts on Interstate 80/94, a few miles east of Kennedy Avenue.

In Lake Station, Ind., some snow plow operators said they had been out all night. They said the snow came down fairly heavy at times, and they had trouble keeping up with it.