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Latest winter blitz: School closings, hazardous driving conditions, power outage near Manhattan

ComEd employees work restore power Sunday near Manhattan.  |  ErGallagher~For Sun-Times Media

ComEd employees work to restore power Sunday near Manhattan. | Erin Gallagher~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 28, 2014 6:26AM



Southlanders were doing their best to fight the elements, as they stocked up on salt, shovels and supplies Sunday afternoon and braced themselves for another bout of frigid temperatures this week.

Illinois State Police alerted drivers to hazardous road conditions and schools announced early Sunday afternoon that they would be closed Monday and more snow, more wind and more cold was headed for the Chicago area.

“I just got back from Florida four days ago. I never should have come back,” said Bob Arnold, of Palos Heights, who broke his shovel and was at Lowe’s in Orland Park to buy another one after the area added a few more inches of snow early Sunday morning.

Gus Arteaga, of Frankfort, was trying to convince his wife to go to Florida, but instead planned to stock up on organic soups while shopping at Brookhaven Market in Mokena Sunday.

When Home Depot in Alsip opened at 8 a.m., folks were waiting outside to get rock salt.

“People were going crazy with the first wave of cold weather. We ran out of all that with the first storm, and had to get emergency shipments,” said store manager Monica Skopick, who felt she had ample supplies now.

Armando Serrano, of Posen, loaded his cart at the Home Depot with 50-pound bags of rock salt as well as windshield fluid. He figured he has used about 500 pounds of salt to keep his driveway clean and safe so far this winter.

“I’ve got a big driveway,” he said.

But those who waited until now to buy a snowblower or a space heater, may be left out in the cold.

“It’s hard to keep up with the demand,” said cashier Cindy Schott at Lowe’s Home Improvement in Orland Park.

Mel Safstrom said the store has been out of snowblowers since the first storm and shelves that once held portable space heaters were empty, except for one display model. The store also was out of rock salt and substituting water softener salt.

While grocery shopping at Brookhaven Market in Mokena, Popsy Akin, of Frankfort, got a text message that the schools would be closed Monday.

“It’s dangerous for the (kids) to be out. I will have to work from home,” she said, seeming to take it all in stride. “The weather has made this year challenging.”

She was doing her usual weekly shopping, but said, “I bought a little extra, hoping I don’t need it. I don’t want to go back out.”

Brookhaven’s assistant store manager John Ward said every time there is a cold snap, the store sees a surge in shoppers.

“When we heard the forecast, we stocked up on milk, eggs, bread and lunchmeat,” he said. “Some people act like it’s the end of the world.”

The store also had a few bags of rock salt, and was selling quite a bit of firewood, as people planned to hunker down the next few days.

Metra announced that Monday’s trains are likely to be delayed due to reduced speeds and slower boarding, and commuters should allow extra travel time.

Nearly all schools were listed as being closed Monday on www.emergencyclosingcenter.com.

Park Lawn School in Oak Lawn and Blue Cap School in Blue Island will be open Monday, but there will be no bus service. Columbia College also is open.

Some already announced closures for Tuesday as well, including Lincoln School in East Hazel Crest, Hoover Schrum District 157 in Calumet City, St. Alexander School in Palos Heights, and St. Michael in Orland Park.

Lockport Township High School District 206 is closed to students Monday, but asked that 12-month employees report for duty. The board of education meeting was rescheduled to Jan. 29.

Bremen Community High School District 228 said its schools, which include Bremen High School in Midlothian, Tinley Park High School, Hillcrest High School in Country Club Hills and Oak Forest High School, would be closed Monday.

Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210 said schools will be closed Monday and Tuesday. That includes Lincoln-Way North, East, Central and West.

Mokena School District 159 also said schools would be closed both Monday and Tuesday.

Oak Forest-based Arbor Park School District 145 schools will be closed both days as well, according to the district’s website.

Stagg High School in Palos Hills, Andrew High School in Tinley Park and Sandburg High School in Orland Park also will be closed Monday, according to emergencyclosingcenter.com.

All Joliet Junior College locations will be closed Monday due to extreme weather.

State police warned of blizzard-like conditions and urged motorists to stay home.

Police warned motorists to stay off windswept roadways — including Interstate 57 — and power was out near Manhattan for awhile Sunday as the latest winter blitz continued to wreak havoc.

llinois State Police issued an alert warning of hazardous road conditions. It said that Will, Grundy and Kendall counties are experiencing blowing and drifting snow, causing hazardous road conditions and areas of zero visibility. Major areas of concern include I-57 in Will County and Interstate 55 south of Interstate 80, plus secondary roadways bordered by open areas where blowing and drifting snow are normally a problem, police said. Travel is not advised in these areas, police said.

People should call 911 or *999 to report an emergency or request assistance, police said.

Police also ask that drivers slow down and change lanes away from all emergency vehicles conducting duties with their emergency lights activated. Several vehicles are losing control and crashes are occurring, police said.

Updates on winter driving conditions are at gettingaroundillinois.com.

Near Manhattan, 10 ComEd trucks were on hand as workers on Sunday repaired three electrical poles on Elevator Road, which borders Manhattan and Wilton Townships. Residents in the immediate surrounding area were without power for a few hours Sunday until it came back on just before 3 p.m. The poles were in the same stretch as those downed by November’s tornado.

Contributing: Erin Gallagher,
Sun-Times Media



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