The Daily Northwestern

Evanston responds to extreme cold with warming, childcare shelters

A+plow+clears+snow+during+a+period+of+extreme+temperatures+in+Evanston.+The+city+has+responded+to+this+weather+by+keeping+facilities+open+for+residents+to+warm+up+in+and+by+encouraging+weather-related+calls+to+311%2C+among+other+practices.
A plow clears snow during a period of extreme temperatures in Evanston. The city has responded to this weather by keeping facilities open for residents to warm up in and by encouraging weather-related calls to 311, among other practices.

A plow clears snow during a period of extreme temperatures in Evanston. The city has responded to this weather by keeping facilities open for residents to warm up in and by encouraging weather-related calls to 311, among other practices.

Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

A plow clears snow during a period of extreme temperatures in Evanston. The city has responded to this weather by keeping facilities open for residents to warm up in and by encouraging weather-related calls to 311, among other practices.

Julia Jacobs, Assistant City Editor

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Evanston responded to Tuesday’s extreme weather and school closings by ensuring that public facilities stayed open for residents seeking warmth and childcare, city manager Wally Bobkiewicz said.

The hours of the Robert Crown Center, 1701 Main St., were extended to midnight to serve as a warming center. Additionally, the Evanston Public Library’s Chicago Avenue/Main Street Branch, 900 Chicago Ave., will open tomorrow to shelter south Evanston residents, although it is normally closed on Thursdays, according to the city’s website. The city also added open gym sessions in three Evanston recreational centers Wednesday. 

Bobkiewicz said the city also encouraged residents to call 311 and 911 help centers in the event of weather-related problems.

Evanston’s 311 Service handled 410 calls and 66 service requests as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Bobkiewicz said in an email to Evanston media. There was one 911 call regarding a frostbitten homeless man, who was taken to the hospital, and there were about 15 referrals to overnight cold weather shelters by departments working with the police this week, he said.

City offices remained open Wednesday, whereas during a bout of extreme weather early last January, city government was limited to only essential staff for one day. Last year, the city encouraged residents to stay home during a day of frigid temperatures, but did not do the same Wednesday, Bobkiewicz said.

“For better or worse, we’re starting to get used to this extreme weather and so, at least from a city perspective, we didn’t take as many precautions,” Bobkiewicz said. “As this is becoming more of a normal thing, we’re, I think, all learning to live with it.”

The city moved some outdoor employees indoors Wednesday, but those who could not be relocated, such as police officers and public works utilities employees, were given a word of extra caution, Bobkiewicz added.

All recycling routes were completed Wednesday despite three nonfunctional trucks, Bobkiewicz said in the email. However, during the week of Jan. 6 last year, Evanston delayed recycling collection one day due to weather, the city’s website said.

Last year, there was an extended period, about four days in a row, of wind chill temperatures 20 to 30 degrees below zero, whereas this year has seen only a short period of extreme temperatures, said Carl Caneva, assistant director of health and human services. There will be above-zero temperatures tomorrow, although wind chill values are predicted to reach minus-25, according to the National Weather Service.

“The dangers are linked very close to exposure,” Caneva said. “If you’re out there for longer periods of time and you’re not properly dressed, you can experience frostbite, hypothermia quickly. The people who are particularly at risk are those who are older or younger, … people who are on certain medications and people with disabilities.”

Evanston Township High School and Evanston/Skokie School District 65 schools and centers were closed Wednesday.

District 65  schools and centers will remain closed again Thursday, the district announced Wednesday. ETHS will operate on a late start day schedule due to the severe weather conditions, the school announced Wednesday.

Classes will begin at 9:40 a.m. at ETHS, according to a statement on the school’s website. All before-school activities and practices are canceled, but after-school activities, practices, meetings and events will continue as planned.

Unless a notification is sent out, schools in both districts plan to operate on their normal schedules Friday.

Although the city has no input in decisions regarding school closings, Bobkiewicz said District 65 was right to be concerned for children walking to school and waiting for buses in frigid wind chills, potentially without sufficient winter clothing.

Tori Latham contributed reporting. 

Email: juliajacobs2018@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @juliarebeccaj

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