Chicago area coping with deep freeze

February 10, 2011 2:57:26 PM PST
The coldest day in more than two years has Chicago-area residents taking precautions to protect against the elements.

The frigid temperatures are impacting a number of different jobs, but Chicagoans are trying to cope as best they can.

Sub-zero temperatures outside make working inside the Harris Ice house relatively balmy.

"Chicago weather is horrible right now," said Jeff Hood who works in a freezer at Harris Ice.

It's a constant 20 degrees inside the ice house whereas outside temperatures overnight dropped to 4 below in the city and 20 below in the outlying suburbs.

"I come from the cold outside to go inside to the cold," said Hood.

Firefighters also face a frigid reality. In Chicago, fire calls in recent nights have doubled and because of frozen hydrants and frosty firefighters the department is now sending twice the number of people to fire scenes.

"The ice buildup on equipment makes things heavier. Obviously you don't move as fast in these types of weather conditions. It just challenges us at a different level," said Assistant Deputy Commissioner. John McNicholas.

Workers at a flower wholesaler on the West Side are keeping warm gearing up for Valentine's Day.

Flowers are being double wrapped to fight the cold, and shipments are double checked to make they weren't damaged by exposure during their trip in from overseas. But here's a warm thought.

"We've got a lot of spring flowers right now. Some daffodils, tulips, hyacinths. Flowers like that make people think of spring," said Harrison Kennicott of Kennicott Brothers Flowers.

On the North Side the Chicago Sweat Lodge is an oasis in which to simply thaw out.

"It helps. You gotta do this once or twice a month to stay sane," said Ben who was there Thursday.

" When we get out of here, it's 25-30 below but it'll feels like 25 or 30," said Juan Ruiz.