Updated 02/02/11 – 2:35 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — A maximum security division of the Cook County Jail lost power overnight as the blizzard raged.

The wing had been on lockdown since before the storm hit and had to rely on backup generators. The lockdown will remain in place until 7 a.m. Thursday.

Five inmates who were released Tuesday told guards they had nowhere to go and asked if they could stay in jail overnight to avoid the storm.

“They wanted to stay an extra night. We never had that before,” said Steve Patterson, a spokesman for the Cook County Sheriff’s office. “It gives new meaning to idea of ‘Hotel California.’”

By 10:45 a.m., power was back on, but Sheriff Tom Dart had put the inmates to work shoveling snow.

The lockdown at the jail began at 3 p.m. Tuesday. The lockdown means there will be limited movement at the jail and no visits by family or friends allowed during that time. Inmates will still be allowed to have visits with legal counsel or clergy.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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