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Severe Weather Emergency Resources

As life-threatening winter extremes leave millions of Midwestern residents at risk, learn where to find emergency food and housing help, along with tips for surviving the bitter cold.



A polar vortex has created a brutal winter cold snap in the Midwest leaving millions of residents in peril. Many cities are experiencing extreme wind speeds and plunges in temperatures over the past several days. Citizens are not only battling the bitter cold, but also power outages, burst water mains, and septic damage. These extreme winter temperatures are life-threatening and can wreak havoc on homes.

Residents may experience loud popping and cracking noises. While alarming, the sounds are typically the expansion and contraction of building materials which cause friction. The bitter cold outside reduces the moisture content in building materials, and the indoor heat expands those same materials creating a loud pop. However, when the weather improves, you will need to verify that there is no actual damage to your home. Cracked windows or pipes can occur this time of year, and you may hear those noises as well. If you need housing aid or services, use the resources and tips that follow.

Emergency Resources
Government assistance is available in every state during times of hardship, especially if it is a declared state of emergency. Michigan residents have access to the State Emergency Relief Program which provides immediate help during extreme situations. The program assists low-income households with heat and other utilities, home repairs, relocation, and home-ownership services. The Illinois Department of Human Services provides homeless assistance, emergency housing, food, and other vital services. Minnesota offers a variety of assistance and financial aid programs, from medical care and food assistance to emergency housing services. Locate temporary housing and emergency resources for your state at USA.gov and explore options for housing aid after disasters.

Food, Clothing & Shelter
The Salvation Army is prepared to help in cities across the Midwest. If you need warm clothing or food, their trucks are out and about offering hot meals and winter garb to anyone in need. They are also driving around cities, diligently looking for homeless encampments and providing rides to local warming shelters at no cost. For emergency aid such as food, clothing, and shelter, contact a local Salvation Army.

Winter Power Outage Tips
Power outages during a winter storm can be devastating. CDC.gov has vital information regarding winter emergencies, natural disasters, and severe weather resources. If your electricity or gas service is interrupted, you should know how to stay warm until your utilities are restored.

Eliminate heat loss by keeping doors closed.

Dress appropriately. Wear a hat and layer up!

Conserve your battery power. You will need to save any battery-power left in your cell phones, laptops, and flashlights in case of an emergency.

Consider moving into a small room to conserve heat or into the basement for a well-insulated wind-blocked space that retains heat efficiently.

Do not use outdoor heat sources or gas generators inside your home. Breathing in carbon-monoxide is life-threatening.

Alert local authorities by calling 3-1-1. They will help direct you to a warming center like your local library or police station.

Even though authorities have issued warnings, the death toll is rising from those trying to brave the cold. These brutal temperatures can cause frostbite in a matter of minutes, so it’s crucial to stay indoors and warm. Schools are closed, snowplows are pulled off the roads, and flights are canceled all over the region. Leave the mail in the box until the weather improves. It’s just too dangerous to be out and about.

Resource Links:
CDC.gov
Salvation Army
Michigan State Emergency Relief Program
Illinois Department of Human Services
Minnesota Assistance and Financial Aid Programs
USA.gov