by Cynthia Hodges
The Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is preparing for brutal conditions this winter as forecaster’s predict the Midwest and Great Lakes region, Chicago in particular is expected to get the most snow and cold in the nation.
Michael Masters, executive director of the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is reassuring the city’s residents:
“We take severe weather conditions very seriously, and are putting into place a robust operational plan designed to assist in reducing the potential impact on our townships and municipalities.”
In assessing last February’s ‘Blizzard of 2011,’ the Illinois Policy Institute gave Chicago an “F” for the Lake Shore Drive response, and a “B” for efforts to clear main roads, and a very generous “C” for side streets.
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During the blizzard, the decision to leave Lake Shore Drive open during high winds, drifting snow and white-out conditions resulted in 900 stranded vehicles, including CTA buses stuck for hours after three accidents in 28 minutes. A reporter asked former Mayor Daley who made the decision to which he replied “not me.”
Daley’s Chief of Staff Raymond Orozco later said it was his decision not to close Lake Shore Drive and apologized repeatedly. He said closing the drive earlier would have resulted in disastrous traffic and possible accidents on other streets.
The decision was a costly one, to both the city and Chicago residents lost valuable resources at a critical time, including 130 firefighters deployed, along with 30 firefighter medics on snow mobiles, and 100 Chicago police officers. The third-largest snowfall in the city’s history cost the city of Chicago and Cook County $37.3 million.
In October, an AccuWeather long-range forecast predicted as much snow as last winter if not more in coming months. The Midwest and Great Lakes region will “hands down” experience the worst winter in the nation.