Chicago Safety Officials Planning Ahead For Severe Weather

CHICAGO (CBS) Winter’s barely over, but it’s not too early to think about severe storms.

The city of Chicago is already taking action to keep you safe, reports CBS 2’s Steve Baskerville.

“Literally thousands of events that we’re responsible for across the city throughout the year,” said Rich Guidice of the Chicago Emergency Management and Communications.

At the city of Chicago’s Emergency Management and Communications, top leaders from police, fire and a host of other departments met Wednesday along with the National Weather Service to plan for the spring-summer severe weather season. Only CBS 2 cameras were allowed inside.

One event discussed was a deadly tent collapse in suburban Wood Dale last August that was caused by a powerful storm.

The same storm prompted the evacuation of the Lollapalooza music festival in Grant Park.

The skies were beautiful that day in Grant Park, but Chicago weather can change in a matter of minutes.

“Things pop up and those pop ups can be very, very severe and we have maybe 12 to 20 minutes’ warning,” said Gary Schenkel of OEMC. “We have to do decision making very quickly.”

It’s that unpredictability that makes a plan critical.

“When we had to evacuate Lollapalooza, we directed every body to the underground parking garages throughout Millennium Park.”

The NFL Draft returns to Chicago in eight days. Workers are busy turning Grant Park into Draft Town, but the tents and temporary structures would not provide safe shelter in a severe storm.

Rewind back to November 2013. On the same day as the Washington, Illinois tornado, officials evacuated Soldier Field for a while. Safety is always top priority for the city, even if it means canceling or delaying an event.

“We’ll never sacrifice a life or the potential loss of life just for the sake of an economic benefit,” Schenkel said.

But you can’t just rely on the city to keep you safe. Have a plan and know what you’d do and where you’d go.

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