Suburban residents slammed by storm

February 1, 2011 10:33:00 PM PST
From the northwest to the southwest, suburban residents weather the storm by stocking up on supplies and avoiding the roads.

Instead of fighting terrible road conditions, people are opting to take the train in Roselle but that is no bargain.

There has been a lot of switching problems which have led to a lot of delays for people getting home Tuesday night.

Most have made it home, and now that they are there, a lot of the folks say they plan to stay put.

The Dominick's grocery store in Elmhurst is one of the only businesses open Tuesday night and it is slammed with people trying to buy last-minute supplies to get through the next couple of days.

Downtown Roselle is like a ghost town. Very few drivers are braving the snow-filled streets like Irving Park Road.

In Skokie, some of those who did make it out are finding it may not have been worth it.

"It is really terrible. I mean, they need to actually like try tow some of this stuff and get it out of the way. I don't know that they're doing. So it's very hard to drive," said motorist Anthony Ocampo.

Driving in the weather Tuesday night is best reserved for four wheel drive vehicles or better yet, snowmobiles or maybe dog sleds.

Crews are trying to plow it is a losing battle.

"The car just got stuck, trying to turn it on. It's not turning on for some reason," said motorist Danny Gil. "Just trying to get home now. I'm freezing right now. We've been stuck now for about half an hour. Trying to stay warm."

Storm slams the southwest suburbs

In the southwest suburbs, the blizzard is making for some near whiteout conditions and making some major thoroughfares impassable.

On Interstate 80, 60 miles are closed Tuesday night from Morris west to Ottawa.

While the county and the city of Joliet are trying their best to stay on top of the storm, a lot of people say they are trying to ride it out.

In a word, the wind is brutal. Powerful gusts whip around icy snow causing poor visibility for people trying to get home. Drivers were also dealing with snow drifts.

"My car got stuck four times. I had to be pushed. Oh, my gosh, it's freezing. I don't know what to do. I want to get in the house," said driver Rena Bradley.

She said she was out because she had to be, but people are urged to stay off the roads, if possible, so the county's fleet of 31 snowplows can clear the roads.

"There's approximately 590 miles of county roadway that those trucks service," said Ken Kaupas with the Will County Sheriff's Department. "So I know that the highway department would just ask for patience, and of course, the sheriff's police we would ask people to use common sense."

This weather has resulted in a first for Joliet's Harris Casino. It closed early at 10 p.m. Tuesday and is scheduled to open at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Dominick Romozzi, Jr. was at the casino for part of the day. As he was waiting to catch the bus home, he said he didn't mind being outside.

"I seen the library was closed, too. I was going to do some tax work on the computer. But everybody is diving under the blankets but I didn't want to stay home," Romozzi said.

Nearly 20 warming centers are open throughout Will County, as well as townships, village halls and a few fire departments.

As for the costs of the storm, Joliet's city manager estimates that this storm will be in the six-figure range.

Schaumburg crews out in full force

Snow began falling in Schaumburg around 2:30 p.m., and within an hour roads went from wet to snow-covered and slick. Schaumburg officials said crews have been preparing since Monday for the storm.

"A total review of all of our equipment and everything ... and fluid levels topped off and any discrepancies were noted and fixed in the shop to start the snowplowing with a fleet that was in good condition," said Steven Weinstock with Schaumburg Public Works.

All of the suburb's 32 plows are out on the road. Weinstock warns drivers to be cautious and said his crews will have to work according to the changing conditions.

"When snow comes down 2 to 3 inches in an hour, if we have whiteout conditions and can't see, we have to pull over and wait for the snow to subside a bit," said Weinstock.

The Elmhurst Public School District has canceled all classes for Wednesday and after school activities forTuesday.

"We need to think about the safety of our kids, and we expect to have anywhere in the neighborhood of 600 or 700 students involved in after-school activities so we have a lot of kids that need to get home," said Diana Smith, principal, York High School