The so-called Polar Vortex has wrecked havoc on the country. The record setting low temperatures have led to school closures, mail stoppage, and a number of reported fatalities. The most at risk are the nation’s homeless, many of whom don’t have anywhere to shelter during the storm. A good Samaritan changed that, though, in the Windy City.
An unidentified person stepped up and paid for hotel rooms for 70 people in Chicago. The homeless were being turned away from overcrowded shelters, and many had resulted to camping out in the bitter cold.
Salvation Army spokeswoman Jacqueline Rachev told reporters that one group camped out Tuesday night in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood. They slept in tents.
“They had been using 100 donated propane tanks to keep warm as temperatures sunk to minus 22 with a windchill of 49 degrees below zero on Wednesday morning,” Insider writes.
Wednesday, though, their fate changed. One of the propane tanks caught fire and exploded. Chicago Fire Department Chief Walter Schroeder effectively shut the camp down when he told them they could no longer rely on the propane.
“We responded to a fire,'” Schroeder said. “When we got there, the fire was extinguished and they found all these propane cylinders. That’s when we escalated it to a Level I Hazmat.”
Had the fire spread to the other tanks, Schroeder noted, the explosion could have been “like a bomb going off.”
As such, his team took the tanks. The Salvation Army stepped in to help the homeless in the camp find a new way to stay warm. They might have ended up in one of the many overcrowded warming centers, but the anonymous donor stepped in.
“It’s a deadly situation for anyone,” Rachev told reporters. “We’re thrilled that someone was in a position to be able to do this.”
All of them were housed in one hotel in Chicago. It is unclear how long they’ll be there, but the act of kindness is adding an optimistic twist to the events of the Polar Vortex.
The record setting low temperatures have kept many indoors, but as this wave recedes, there is another moving in from the west.