Even if ground hogs did not crawl through the 18 or so inches of snow cover this morning, senior City staff, including City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, were available for a press briefing at 7 a.m., some of them having worked through the night or at least been on call.

The first message of the morning was from Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, who said, “Stay inside.” She urged residents not to try to shovel their own walks but to hire outside contractors if possible because of the dangerously heavy snow.

Streets

Suzette Robinson, director of Public Works, said the “primary routes are passable.” She said some streets have been cleared “down to the pavement” but drifting snow is still a problem.

In the downtown area, where the parking decks were open overnight for people to park cars to avoid having them towed in the snow emergency, crews have removed “mountains” of snow, Ms. Robinson said. Snow-melting operations will be set up at Oak Avenue and University Place, the summertime spot of the downtown farmer’s market. She said there is still a lot to be done and added, “We prefer that people avoid driving downtown.”

Refuse and recycling pickups will be delayed until at least Thursday and possibly Friday. The RoundTable will post updates as soon as they are received.

Utilities

Dave Stoneback, director of the Utilities Department, reported no problems at the water plant this morning. He said he had received notification of a power outage in the 2700 blocks of Girard Avenue and Garrison Street, near Evanston Hospital. He said he had received an e-mail confirmation from a Commonwealth Edison representative that power had been restored there.

Community Centers

Robert Crown Community Center was open all night to shelter three people, said Doug Gaynor, director of Parks, Recreation and Community Service. Crown will remain open today for day-care and other programs, he said, and Fleetwood-Jourdain, which also offers day-care, will open at its regular time. Chandler Community Center will open at 10 a.m., since most children will not be in school today, he said. The Levy Center will be staffed to handle inquiries and to coordinate the volunteer snow-shoveling program.

Police, Fire and Life Safety

Both Police Chief Richard Eddington and Fire Chief Greg Klaiber reported a relatively easy and quiet night. Chief Klaiber reported 10 calls, and Chief Eddington said only six cars were towed because of the snow emergency. He said Sergeant Thomas Moore of the traffic division credited the City’s mass notification system for the small number of tows required. (See sidebar)

Chief Klaiber said that the fire and life safety department will be able to handle emergencies even though not all residential streets have been plowed. “The biggest challenge is getting down side streets. We may have to park a block away and make sleds to carry patients to the ambulance. It’s kind of improvising, but we’ve done it before,” he said.

Analysis of the Mass Notification About the Storm

The City provided the following information about calls made on Feb. 1 in anticipation of what has turned out to be one of the largest snowfalls in Chicagoland history.

 20,525 Calls/contacts made

 1,586 calls with delivery confirmed, that is, receiver actively confirming receipt of message

 7,186 calls with delivery not confirmed, in that the message was delivered but receiver did not confirm receipt

 3,852 calls in which resident hung up before message ended

 7,901 calls were not connected. Either there was no answer, or the line was busy or out of service