[2/4/19] – Chicago Polar Vortex

Any Chicagoan will tell you it takes a lot to bring their city to a standstill. January 29th, 2019 marked the city’s coldest day since 1985. Lasting through January 30th, the polar vortex that swept across the Midwest and eventually the South and Northeast gripped these areas, but Chicago was particularly hard hit. A temperature of -46°F with wind chill is the official number, but there are reports of -50°F and even -60°F in some areas. Deadly chills sent thousands indoors. For others, their experience was markedly different. Home to an estimated 80,000 homeless people, including children, many Chicagoans were unable to find refuge, forcing them to attempt to survive this weather event.

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. In addition to the resources provided below, the deck contains discussion questions, an in-class activity, an online activity, and assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for Chicago Polar Vortex

Learning Objective 1: Explain the experience of homeless individuals living through catastrophic weather conditions using multiple sociological lenses.

Learning Objective 2: Understand how natural disasters can impact, and often disrupt, the social order of a society. 

Learning Objective 3: Discuss the nature of social scripts as they relate to experiencing a natural disaster.






Additional Resources

Julie Bosman, Monica Davey, “‘I’m Cold and I’m Afraid’: Across Midwest, Homeless Await Deep Freeze” (New York Times, Text)

Good Samaritan Helps 70 Homeless People Stay In Hotel During Polar Vortex” (HuffPost, Text)

“Chicago’s Largest Homeless Shelter Took In About 800 People Tuesday During Night Of Deadly Cold” (CBS Chicago, Video/Text)

Avery Anapol, “Chicago homeless shelter bends rules, takes in 800 people during polar vortex” (The Hill, Text)

Katherine Hignett, “Polar Vortex: Chicago’s Homeless Struggle in the Bitter Cold” (Newsweek, Video/Text)

David Schaper, “Polar Vortex Causes Midwest States Of Emergency As Cold Pushes Farther South” (NPR, Audio/Text)

Emily Moon, “An Increasing Number of Unsheltered People Must Weather the Polar Vortex” (Pacific Standard, Text)



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