Sub-zero temps blast Chicago area

February 9, 2011 9:08:49 PM PST
Temperatures are heading well below zero for much of the Chicago area. Add a little wind and it's downright dangerous.

A wind chill advisory kicks in overnight for all of the Chicago area. The temperature could feel like 25 below zero Thursday morning.

Earlier in the day, bitter cold temperatures forced many in the area to seek shelter and protection from the elements.

Area residents were trying to cope with the coldest weather in a couple of years, with temperatures in the single digits and wind chills combining to make life challenging.

The city of Chicago has six warming centers open. The 10 S. Kedzie location is operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. On Wednesday afternoon, close to 150 people were helped at the center.

"There is no reason for anyone to be in the cold. Feel free to call 311 and we will be on the scene to pick them up and provide transportation here or to another warming center," said Samuel Bunville, Chicago Dept. of Family & Support Services.

With the temperatures dangerously low, the city issued warnings and asked people to check on their neighbors. They also want residents to keep their health in mind.

"We want people to limit the time they stay outside. You really need to make sure you are dressing warmly. And really need to pay special attention to the hands, feet, ears and nose," said Dr. Bechara Choucair, commissioner, Dept. of Public Health.

Every Wednesday, Rev. Derek Pagan comes to the warming center on Kedzie to provide the homeless with a warm cup of soup and friendship.

"This is what we do every Wednesday. We try to come out and see these people, and we kind of get a chance to be able to talk with them and to be able to share things with them about their lives," said Rev. Pagan.

Chicagoans are doing their best to deal with the brutal cold.

"I have a fleece on, tights, leg warmers, socks, fleece-lined rubber boots, a shirt inside and a thick fleece-lined sweatshirt, two hoods," Rucha Patel told ABC7.

Some Chicagoans say they are tired of the frigid temperatures.

"I'm ready to wear flip-flops and tank tops," said Susie Anders.

The bitter cold may be an inconvenience and a serious threat to health and safety, but one Canadian tourist told ABC7 he loves the Chicago weather.

"I think it's fantastic. Chicago is a nice city. It is the windy city, so we experience the full feeling of Chicago with the wind and cold, so it's great," said Danny Ballerand, Canadian tourist.

The city's warming centers have provided extra staff and personnel to deal with the hundreds that may need the shelter. Residents may also go to libraries and police stations.

The Salvation Army is also providing hundreds of thousands of meals to the homeless.