Chicago battles dangerous deep freeze

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Dangerous cold arctic air gripped the city of Chicago Monday.

Warming shelters will be open throughout the night and Chicago Public Schools will remain closed again on Tuesday.

At the city’s 911 center this afternoon, department heads gave an update on the severe weather situation.  Mayor Emanuel, back from a two week vacation with his family, was among those who spoke.

“Every service that is available as a city is provided to the people of the city if Chicago and those who are most vulnerable,” he said.

The mayor wants to get those at risk inside to one of the city’s main warming centers.  Fire and police stations as well as libraries are also open for that purpose.

Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams urged residents not to shovel or blow snow back onto the street, once they’re cleared by the 340 city owned snow  plows.

“Ensuring that main streets are clear is essential to the safety of motorists and necessary for the efficient flow of traffic,” Williams said.

But it was CPS CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett facing the toughest questions.  Why did the state’s largest school system wait until Sunday night to cancel schools for Monday?

“We’d be in consultation from our teams from Friday on,” she said. “It may have seemed like the last minute but it wasn’t we were being proactive all along. And the emails that I’ve gotten from parents have all been ‘thanks.’ “

That’s as far as she would go when talking about the timing of the CPS announcement Sunday night.

Byrd-Bennett also said she was unaware of the Chicago Teachers Union push over the weekend to have schools closed and that it had no bearing on her decision yesterday.

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