CHICAGO (CBS) — The City of Chicago is enlisting 100 ministers to be foot soldiers in the fight against the cold. They’ve been asked to do well-being checks and to open their churches as warming centers.

The city has other extensive plans for the next two days as well, covering seniors, students, the homeless and commuters. It all boils down to keeping people warm and inside.

“No one should be out in this weather,” Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler with the Department of Family and Support Services said.

But that’s easier said than done.

The Parks Department is offering programs for children not in school. Robocalls are going out to the elderly warning them of the dangers. Meals on wheels is being asked to report any seniors in trouble. The city is cracking down on landlords who don’t provide adequate heat and adding 500 beds to more than 160 warming centers and shelters citywide.

“No one will be turned away.  No one,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

But realizing the city can’t possible do everything, the mayor is asking Chicagoans to look out for one another.

“We need everyone to do their part and play their role,” he said.

That’s exactly what Dwana Robe is doing. Every Tuesday she brings food and water to the homeless around Chicago. This week she’s also bringing extra blankets and boots.

“Absolutely, I’m concerned,” Robe said. “That’s why I’m here today to see if I can get them warm.”

And the health department reminds residents whose hands start to hurt of feel tingly and red to resist the urge to rub them together. It can damage tissue. Instead get inside and put them in warm, not hot, water.


Chelsea Irving