Noreiko worries about frozen pipes, just not yours

I’m still digesting the DeKalb city council’s goal-setting session from earlier this week.

The alderman from the Fifth Ward, Kate Noreiko, was pushing to build a new DeKalb Municipal Building instead of renovating the one we have. She says she thinks it’s unsafe, though she provided no foundation for this belief.

Part of Noreiko’s argument was that, if the pipes there freeze and burst, what would city workers do?

Hold that thought for a moment. I want to introduce another goal council members talked about evening, which was emergency operations planning. During that discussion, Noreiko wanted to address active shooter situations.

My mind went back to frozen pipes, because we don’t have SWAT teams for that.

Last month, 30,000 Com Ed customers in Kane, Will, and Kendall counties lost power during one of the days of extreme cold we had. Fortunately, the outage lasted only two hours.

If your furnace breaks down during the coldest night of the year and you have to leave to stay safe, you could go to a neighbor’s house. If the whole neighborhood has a power outage, your options start to narrow.

Yeah, I’m back to the overnight warming center, which DeKalb so far refuses to provide. Up to now, I’ve talked about it in terms of helping people of DeKalb who are living in cars or on the street to avoid hypothermia or frostbite, an important mission in public safety on its own. But at the intersection of extreme cold and power failure, more of us might suddenly need that help.

First, though, you need an infrastructure in place, of volunteers and protocols and logistics. Opening a warming center would force the building of an infrastructure that actually would get tested, and could probably expand to other emergency situations.

So what would city workers do if pipes froze in the Muni Building? They would pick up their laptops and move across the street to the city hall annex.

Let’s work on answering that question for the rest of us.