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Illinois Shivers In Arctic Blast With AM-Storm Rdp

January 20, 1985

CHICAGO (AP) _ Charity workers searched streets and subways Sunday for homeless people after Chicago was hit by the coldest weather on record for the Windy City.

″People hang out in (elevated-train) stations, ride the subways and buses and have sought refuge in unheated hallways,″ said Doug Dobmeyer, executive director of the Center for Street People.

Authorities said the cold weather was partly to blame for the death of a 73-year-old central Illinois man Saturday. Although authorities believe the man died of a heart attack, Coroner Chris Vallas said he considers the death weather-related because of the man’s age and the sub-zero temperatures.

The mercury at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport fell to 27 degrees below zero at 6:18 a.m., said Paul Merzlock, a spokesman for the National Weather Service in Chicago. The previous record was minus 26 degrees on Jan. 10, 1982.

Elsewhere in the state, record lows for the date were broken in Decatur, where temperatures fell to minus 21 degrees; in Peoria, minus 22; Quincy, minus 21; Rockford, minus 26; Springfield, minus 21; and Carbondale, minus 10.

Merzlock said the cold air came ″right straight down from Northwest Canada, right out of the Polar regions into the Great Plains.″

In Chicago, the Center for Street People provided refuge for about 100 people Sunday, while more than 50 people sat on couches and cots at the Levy Center, one of four shelters set up by the city’s Department of Human Services.

One man, identified only as Mike, said he was grateful for the shelter because he usually sits in public libraries, and said a friend had suggested he commit a minor crime just so that he could stay overnight in jail.

″All some of these people want is to be in jail for a night until this cold breaks,″ he said.

Another Levy Center occupant, John Zolkiewicz, 57, had been staying in a South Side hotel but left about a week ago because there was no heat.

″I was in the Trailways bus station, and the police brought me in here last night,″ he said Sunday.

At Cook County Hospital in Chicago, officials reported six frostbite cases and one hypothermia case.

″Just try and stay off the streets,″ said Aaron Cunningham, duty administrator at the hospital. ″Stay at home.″

By midday Sunday, temperatures had begun to rise statewide. The weather service said temperatures would reach 10 to 20 degrees statewide by Monday.

In Gibson City in east-central Illinois, the cold weather froze a computer sensor on the town’s water tank Sunday, temporarily reducing water pressure. The problem was corrected, but residents were told to boil their water.

Update hourly