The Polar Vortex swallowing most of the east coast and northern U.S. states in it’s freezing cold temperatures have arrived to Chicago this week.
Temperatures dropped dramatically as early as Wednesday, frigid temperatures and below-zero wind chills are in effect and not going anywhere for some time.
The National Weather Service issued an “Excessive Cold Risk” for “dangerously cold” temperatures and wind chills early Wednesday, and it remains in effect for the rest of the week. There is also a possibility of snow later in the week.
Even International Falls, Minnesota, known as the “Nation’s Icebox,” set a record low temperature of 37 degrees below zero on Wednesday. While Hibbing, Minnesota was 28 below.
Chicago’s forecast deep into next week doesn’t see temperatures reaching 20 degrees. Many nights will drop below 0. Renaissance Social Services encouraged the homeless to visit warming shelters.
But even those with shelter have been failed by their heating systems, including the residents of a senior center on the North Side. There is a bigger conspiracy going on, could it be due to to negligence? Some certainly think so.
The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) denied there were any issues at the Caroline Hedger building on the 6400 block of North Sheridan Avenue in Rogers Park, but some senior residents beg to differ. Yvonne Wright, 72, a resident at the home, told WGN9:
“Sometimes you get a little heat and its cut off again. On and off on and off.”
Yvonne brought the news station into her home where she said maintenance crews got the heat working in her unit on Wednesday. But on Thursday, even though her thermostat was set at 80 degrees she said the vents were blowing cold air. She was brought to tears as the weather causes her immediate pain due to having arthritis in over 90 percent of her body.
Wednesday afternoon, a stack of space heaters were delivered to the senior residence. Another problem that presented itself- a flood. Due to the heat not working, some of the pipes burst causing flooding in the building. And this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.
According to Stephanie Hayes, a resident in the building, this is the second year in a row some residents there have complained of heating problems. She also told WGN9:
“I’ve been sleeping in three sweaters, two pajama pants because it’s cold and I’ve been very sick and it seems to be getting worse.”
A CHA spokesperson released a statement, once again denying there was anything wrong, and said the building’s heating system was replaced in the past year. She said a check of the building and apartments this morning showed temperatures between 76 and 79 degrees. Residents with concerns are encouraged to contact CHA.
The full statement reads:
“The Caroline Hedger Senior Apartments property, as well as all of CHA’s other senior developments, has heat and a check of the buildings and apartments this morning and afternoon showed that the temperature is registering at between 76 and 79 degrees. The City of Chicago heat ordinance requires the temperature inside a rental residence to be at least 68 degrees from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm, and at least 66 degrees from 10:30 pm to 8:30 am.
CHA checks on its residents and conducts well-being and heat checks every day during cold weather. The health, safety and well-being of our residents is our number one priority. CHA CEO Eugene Jones. Jr. has visited a number of CHA buildings today and encourages residents to contact CHA with any concerns about their building or apartments.”
Should the CHA deny or not comply with the statement, seniors are encouraged to reach for help elsewhere. Several warming centers are dedicated for residents to find refuge from the cold. The warming centers are open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at:
Englewood Center, 1140 W. 79th St.
Garfield Center, 10 S. Kedzie Ave.
King Center, 4314 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
North Area, 845 W. Wilson Ave.
South Chicago, 8650 S. Commercial Ave.
Trina Davila, 4312 W. North Ave.
The Garfield Center is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To request a well-being check for someone who may be suffering from the cold, report inadequate heat in a residential building, or connect to shelter and supportive services, call 3-1-1.
“Seniors are welcome in these centers every day of the year, especially on a day like today when it’s cold outside. We are open and we are welcoming for seniors to come in,” said Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler, Department of Family and Support Services.