Suburban residents digging out from blizzard

February 2, 2011 8:42:49 PM PST
While the snow ended early Wednesday afternoon for most of the Chicago area, it kept snowing in parts of northwest Indiana.

Even though DuPage County government officials are reporting that all major roadways are clear and drivable, schools in Districts 203 and 204 are among those that will cancel classes Thursday for the second day in a row.

Earlier Wednesday, the sound of snow blowers filled neighborhoods in Oak Park as residents there carved a path from their homes to the sidewalk. ABC7 found city and private plows clearing the streets in that community.

ABC7's Ben Bradley reported from Naperville to a look at how suburban communities are dealing with this huge snow storm.

In Westmont, Ogden Avenue was nearly impassible until 10 in the morning. Winds ripped apart several signs and blew snow here, there, and everywhere.

In Downers Grove, the storm stole power from several homes Tuesday night that depend on electricity for their heat.

"The night was fine, we slept like babies, but this morning the chill really hit," said Garth Gibson.

The Gibson family, including 2-year-old Oliver, took turns warming up in the car Wednesday morning after the temperature in their home plunged to below 42 degrees.

"[ComEd] said they didn't have info for our area," said Gibson. "The power has flickered once, so maybe we'll get it back."

Some have fewer choices. A Downers Grove homeless shelter required people to leave at 12 noon.

"The hardest part is because of the snow on the sidewalks, the hardest part is doing the walking," said Jonathan, who had to leave the shelter.

Adding to the suburban snow problems for the homeless, the fact dramatically reduced Metra and Pace schedules are leaving many without a way to get around.

David Lolles and his daughter needed a bus to reach their shelter Wednesday night.

"It's cold out here," said Lolles, "And yeah, I feel cut off."

In Naperville, calls to 911 nearly tripled their norm as the storm reached its top intensity. One-hundred-thirty-eight drivers had to be helped out of ditches and snow banks in this one suburb alone.

"If we had a report of a car being off to the side of the road, I would say officers usually responded within 15 or 20 minutes," said Sgt. Greg Bell, Naperville Police.

Unlike some other areas of Naperville, police did not have to use snowmobiles to aid or rescue any folks, but they did use 4x4s and now the snowmobiles are being used by residents to enjoy some snowy fun.

In Wheaton, there weren't too many emergency fire calls, so firefighters helped residents shovel snow.

For most people it was snow day, so you can't have all work and no play. The sled hill in Elmhurst got some good use.

"Terrific day to get to miss work, kids are off of school. Do a little sledding, spend a little family time," said Elmhurst resident Jim Bibizas.

Schools will be closed Thursday in Elmhurst as well as a lot of other districts around the area. It is a problem, not only as the snow is piled up, but also the cold weather.