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Polar vortex and good Samaritans
Photo courtesy:

By Joseph Rios

Last week in Chicago, a group of 70 people were evicted from a homeless encampment in the city when a propane tank exploded. Following the explosion, police confiscated nearly 100 other tanks, and the group was left without any form of heat.

It couldn’t have come at a worse time for the group, as temperatures in Chicago dropped to 0 and -22 degrees with a wind chill. In Chicago, there are 80,000 homeless people, and when temperatures drop that soon, it can become life-threatening.

The Salvation Army was working to find the 70 homeless people somewhere to stay for the night, but as they were making arrangements, they received a phone call saying that someone paid for a hotel for the group of people.

The person who paid for that hotel was Candice Payne, a real estate broker. She was thinking about the homeless population who were trying to survive in the frigid temperatures, and she said she had difficulty finding a hotel who would house the group. The only one that wanted to was the Amber Inn, and when strangers saw a social media post of hers, Payne was able to rent nearly 60 rooms for over five nights.

Payne posted a photo on her Instagram account that read, “It’s freezing and deadly! I just secured 30 hotel rooms for the homeless, need help getting them there. Tag anyone who has a passenger van. I will pay you to help!”

She captioned the photo, “It don’t take much to be a blessing to someone else! It’s freezing cold and deadly temperatures outside! For the people who have no where to go, no money, no food, family disowned them… need help it’s not much, but to get them out of the cold, feed them and provide them with warm, clean clothes is a start.”

The only problem Payne had with transporting the homeless group to the hotel was the fact that the homeless group was worried their belongings would be stolen if they left. Payne ensured that she would replace any belongings if they were stolen, and Payne said some of the people from the group were people with disabilities and one pregnant woman.

The surge of cold weather came from a polar vortex that brought an arctic blast to the Midwest and Northeast. Chicago’s weather got as cold as -27 degrees. Factor in the wind, and it felt like -42 degrees. The city saw schools and businesses shutdown, and flights were canceled.

The weather has killed at least 20 people. Among one of those incidents was a man who froze to death in Wisconsin. The cold weather could stay for several weeks, and another similar incident happened in 2014 in Chicago. Polar vortexes also caused extreme temperatures in 1977, 1982, 1985 and 1989.





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