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Managing in Negative 20 Degree Weather

Recently, Chicago has had a blast of cold weather surface everywhere. It affected my family and I greatly.

On January 30, 2019 , Chicago’s weather greatly decreased to a low of -21 degrees. All schools were cancelled for that Wednesday. Oddly enough, it did not snow much that day, though there was snow on the ground.

The day before, my entire family was expecting a calm day off. Of course it was cold outside, but we prepared in case the water stopped working. We planned to have the heat on high overnight, watch Marvel movies and making some nice warm food. Preferably, some hot chocolate and pile completely under blankets.

That all went extremely downhill fast. I woke up roughly around 8 AM , I was almost frozen. I thought my mother forgot to turn on the heat. I grabbed a blanket and headed to the bathroom to brush my teeth. When I flipped my light switch it didn’t turn on. I automatically knew the electricity was out. I rushed to my basement and grabbed a bunch of blankets, covered my family while they were sleeping, and laid out warm clothes for my mother. I even wrapped my cat in a blanket.

I was extremely confused. The heat ran by gas, but it wasn’t turning on—neither was the oven. We had no source of heat and our cars would not start. My family stayed asleep for an extra two hours. When they woke up we were all absolutely freezing. After about an hour we finally got the stove to work (even though the oven wasn’t). We boiled water and kept our hands warm over the steam. Frost and ice began to form inside of my house.

At this point, we all realized our entire neighborhood had no electricity or heat. We live in a pretty suburban area with a lot of older people. We saw them through the window struggling to turn on their cars. We noticed the area was almost completely vacant. I only assumed they booked hotels or went to family with working heat. For my family, there wasn’t much of an option. We were considering hotels, but we were pretty attached to our pets. We have a cat named Mocha and a bunch of fish. We couldn’t leave them behind—that’s if we could even get a car to start. The fish tank was almost at zero degrees. We began to see our breath in the house. It was pretty terrifying. I obviously got a pretty serious cold, my family did as well.

About five hours passed by and it all finally turns back on. We were all so extremely relived. We charged our phones incase of an emergency and made food n case we couldn't cook later. My mom was extremely happy, she suffers from back problems and the cold greatly affects it. About three hours pass by and we were more than sure everything was staying on. I turned on America’s Got Talent and finally started to relax. Out of nowhere everything just completely shuts down again. At this point, it was pitch black outside and we couldn’t see around the house. I only had 20 percent on my phone and I used it as a flashlight to find candles to light. We called the electric company and started going into panic mode again. After about 30 minutes, we noticed six large trucks pulling up. It was the news and ComEd trying to fix the problem going on in the area.

Finally, everything turned back on after about another hour of coldness, panic and worry. It actually stayed on this time for the rest of the night (and continued). We all got to sleep very calmly until the next morning. My oldest brother had work and couldn’t get the cars to start. He had to get a ride from a friend while we called State Farm to jump the other two cars we had. It did end up working, but we had to waste a lot of money. The cold completely messed my other brothers car up and we had to get it fixed.

Luckily, we are all safe and healthy—other than the colds. If you live in a rather cold area, please be prepared for all possible inconveniences. Stay warm everybody! 

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