Midwest bundles up as bitter cold grips region
Police in Milwaukee, where the temperature was just 2 degrees at noon, checked under freeway overpasses to find the homeless and urge them to find a shelter. The United Way of Greater Milwaukee has donated $50,000 to two homeless shelters so they can open overflow centers.
"We're incredibly relieved," said Donna Rongholt-Migan, executive director of the Cathedral Center, a Milwaukee shelter that received $25,000. "I was walking my dog last night and I couldn't feel my legs just after walking around the block."
Schools across the region either started late or didn't open at all. Districts in Duluth, Minn., and Ashland, Bayfield, Hurley, Washburn and Superior in far northern Wisconsin closed amid warnings that the wicked wind chills could freeze exposed flesh within a minute.
"It's brutal," Courtney Thrall, a 21-year-old University of Wisconsin-Madison student, said as she waited for her bus, her fur-trimmed parka hood pulled over her head.
On Sunday, a 70-year-old man was found frozen in his unheated home in Des Plaines, Ill. And in Green Bay, Wis., a 38-year-old man was found dead outside his home Monday morning. Authorities in both cases said the victims died of hypothermia and cold exposure, with alcohol a possible contributing factor.
A 77-year-old Illinois woman also was found dead near her car in southwestern Wisconsin on Saturday night, and a 61-year-old Minnesota man was pronounced dead at a hospital after he was found in a storage building Saturday morning.
The plunging temperatures made life plenty miserable for plumbers.
Workers in Madison had to repair at least four water main breaks since Sunday afternoon. Jim Gilchrist, a third-generation plumber in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, said he received about five or six calls Tuesday from people with frozen water pipes in their homes. Few pipes had actually burst — yet.
"We'll probably get those calls later, as pipes begin thawing" and develop a split, Gilchrist said. "Today they just know they don't have water; tomorrow they will have water spraying."
At least two fires in southern Wisconsin were blamed on property owners using heaters or other means to thaw frozen pipes. In one case, a dairy barn was destroyed, and in the other, a mobile home was lost. No one was hurt.
Associated Press writers Doug Glass in Minneapolis, Don Babwin and Tammy Webber in Chicago, Jeff Karoub in Detroit, Dirk Lammers in Sioux Falls, S.D., and Dinesh Ramde and Gretchen Ehlke in Milwaukee contributed to this report.