Getty Images | Scott Olson, Gary Hershorn

Good Samaritan Buys Hotel Rooms For 70 Homeless People In Frozen Chicago

In December, a little snow and frost on the windows is part of a delightful winter wonderland. In January, we're out of the festive season and already well and truly tired of it, and winter always has more, and more brutal, stuff in store for us.

But seldom do we see the downright dangerous levels of cold that put our lives on hold during a polar vortex. To say it's been a crazy winter so far would be an understatement, especially in the Midwest. And that's just counting one week.

But the nice thing is that this sort of extreme weather occasionally brings out the best in people.

How cold has it been in Chicago during the polar vortex?

Getty Images | Scott Olson

How about colder than Siberia, Antarctica, or even parts of Mars?

It was cold enough to close schools, tourist attractions like the Navy Pier and the Art Institute of Chicago, and even shut down the Circuit Court of Cook County.

It was cold enough that, to run trains, Metra Rail had to set the tracks on fire.


Just to make sure that the switches needed to keep the trains going where they need to go don't freeze shut. Also, the extreme cold can cause rails to shrink enough to pull apart, so they need to be heated up to reconnect.

It was so cold in Chicago that the city experienced "frost quakes."

Getty Images | Scott Olson

Loud booms were heard around the city, WGN reported, as water below ground froze and expanded, causing a build up of pressure that, when released, makes a big boom.

And so, with temperatures that usually aren't seen so far from the North Pole descending on the city, it's heartening to know that people are thinking of who's most vulnerable.

Getty Images | Joshua Lott

For the homeless population, this kind of cold is life-threatening.

But good folks are trying to help them out. One homeless camp in Chicago received help not once but twice during the cold snap.

At the campsite, 70 homeless people had gathered and set up tents, but they had no heat until someone donated 100 propane tanks.

Facebook | The Salvation Army Chicago Metropolitan Division

Those propane tanks provided an important heat source for one terribly cold night, but the next day, one of the tanks exploded. Thankfully no one was injured.

However, the fire department responded and confiscated all of the remaining tanks, citing the safety risk.

"When we got there, the fire was extinguished and they found all these propane cylinders," Fire Chief Walter Schroeder told the Chicago Tribune. "That's when we escalated it to a level 1 hazmat. There was a significant amount of propane there. And with that many cylinders, that's like a bomb going off."

With no heat source remaining and another brutally cold night ahead, the Salvation Army made plans to move the group to one of their warming centers.

Facebook | The Salvation Army Chicago Metropolitan Division

But about an hour later, city officials called up the Salvation Army to let them know a good Samaritan had come forward with an incredible offer — they would put all 70 people up in a hotel for the rest of the week.

"Isn't that wonderful?" Jacqueline Rachev, a Salvation Army spokesperson, said. "At least they're warm and safe."

Getty Images | Gary Hershorn

The identity of the kind person remains unknown, as does the location of the hotel, but of the 70 people offered a hotel room, only one declined, choosing instead to go to a Salvation Army warming center.

h/t Chicago Tribune

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