STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
CHERLY CORLEY: Hi, Steve.
INSKEEP: What are conditions like in Chicago?
CORLEY: Well, it is very blustery and still cold - about 17 inches of snow on the ground here - and snowing lightly, at least in the downtown area where I am. But it is the wind that is very fierce. It's just very difficult to walk. And we expect another two to six inches of snow in the Chicago area before it moves out.
INSKEEP: Is this snow that's drifting, if it's 17 inches and there's a lot of wind?
CORLEY: There - it is. There are lots of big drifts. I must say, that at least in the downtown area, what I've seen so far, the street plows have been able to do a credible job, especially if you decide to walk in the street. But yeah, there are huge drifts that you want to avoid, and that's why city officials are warning everyone - as they did yesterday - to stay inside if they can. And I can tell you, in a city that's typically bustling at this time of day, it looks like a ghost town - because so many businesses are closed and not many taxi cabs on the street.
INSKEEP: So this goes beyond what Chicagoans would normally expect in a Chicago winter, then?
CORLEY: Well, you know, Chicago hasn't had a huge blizzard in several years. We pride ourselves on knowing how to deal with the snow. We've had several big storms, but we haven't had one like this in a number of years. And so, what we have are still some problems. We have streets that are impassable, Chicago's Lake Shore Drive, right next to Lake Michigan, was shut down last night - not because of high winds pushing waves on the road, which officials had feared - but rather, it became a mess, just because of accidents and so many people. And after cars and busses were abandoned, you know, it was just a mess. And there were still people who had been stranded there for hours, and hours, and hours being rescued early this morning.
INSKEEP: You know, I'm reminded of the old saying about Chicago, that people don't care what their politicians stand for, as long as they pick up the garbage. I suppose people don't care what their politicians stand for as long as they get the snow shoveled at a time like this.
CORLEY: Well, that's what - that's the thing and that's how it goes. I can tell you we're also glad, though, that Chicago has take the step to close a number of things. This is the first time in 12 years that the Chicago Public Schools in Chicago have shut down because of weather. It's a snow day for more than 410,000 kids here.
INSKEEP: Is this going to affect the mayoral campaign that's under way?
CORLEY: Well, actually it is, Steve. We are in the midst of a campaign for mayor - a lot of people might know that Rahm Emanuel, the former chief of staff to President Obama, is in this race. Our elections are just about three weeks away and all the early voting sites will be closed today, except for one at the main Chicago elections office.
INSKEEP: People will be voting a bit later than they would've anticipated, then?
INKEEP: Cheryl, thanks very much.
CORLEY: You're welcome.
INSKEEP: That's NPR's Cheryl Corley in Chicago.
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