Snowmobiles on stand-by for Chicagoans in need

February 1, 2011

By Associated Press & City Room

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley says his city has learned a couple of things from New York City about dealing with snow storms: use ice melters and have snowmobiles ready in case of emergency.

Daley says the ice melters - essentially jet engines - will be used to help clear away the estimated 1 to 2 feet of snow the city is predicted to get overnight instead of trucking it out. He says that would take thousands of trucks and cost too much money. New York has used the machines for years. But that city was criticized when ambulances couldn't reach some people after a post-Christmas blizzard because of impassable streets.

Chicago officials say they have dozens of snowmobiles on standby to help rescue people.

Gov. Pat Quinn has activated the Illinois National Guard ahead of the snowstorm.  Quinn said this morning he has activated more than 500 troops to help stranded motorists on interstate highways. The governor's office says the troops will be stationed at rest areas along highways. That will include Interstate 70 and highways north of I-70.

Troops will have supplies like water and snack bars. They will work with the Illinois State Police to make sure stranded travelers are safe. Quinn activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield yesterday to coordinate the state's response to the storm.