City Learns Lessons From Blizzard

June 21, 2011

On this first day of summer, new guidelines have been submitted on what to do in the event of a snowstorm.

Of course we are talking about the Blizzard of 2011, more specifically the Groundhog Day blizzard, when more than 20 inches of snow was dumped on the city and nearly 500 cars became stranded on Lake Shore Drive.

It took 33 hours to clear LSD and reopen it.

cars abandoned on Lake Shore Drive during the blizzard

Let's hope we don't experience this again.

A 12-page After Action Report (AAR), put together by former Chicago’s former Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) director Jose Santiago, was released on Monday detailing recommendations that will hopefully prevent this from happening again.

Among the suggestions, the city of Chicago should:

*Create a plan that “includes clearly identified triggers for a systematic shutdown” of Lake Shore Drive.

*Install additional median cuts along Lake Shore Drive so emergency equipment can more easily get through and cars will have more places to turn around.

*Stage tow trucks nearby in anticipation of extreme weather and set up CTA buses before the weather hits so they can be used as warming centers.

*Install more surveillance cameras for better visibility. The city has already added four more.

*Improve communication between bus drivers and the CTA control center and improve information to motorists via radio stations.

*Create a parking plan for cars that have to be towed.

Chicago’s current OEMC director Gary Schenkel defended the city’s decision to not close the drive pre-blizzard and said that if it happens again, he would probably do the same thing and wait for the situation to develop.

“We’re gonna pray a lot and hope that God doesn’t dump another 40 inches of snow on us,” he said.

If it does, hopefully Chicago and its residents will be better prepared next time.

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