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Street and Sanitation Commissioner on How Chicago Prepares for More Snow

Aired December 29, 2000 - 1:02 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Forecasters say more snow is expected to hit much of Illinois today, with as much as six inches expected in the northern part of the state. They're used to that kind of thing in Chicago, but the state transportation secretary urges drivers to slow down, after a string of recent accidents.

CNN Chicago bureau chief Jeff Flock is keeping an eye on things in the Chicago area.

Jeff, you getting around all right today?

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CHICAGO BUREAU CHIEF: Well, we've gotten around to the top of what perhaps is the tallest snow pile in Chicago. You talk about the snowiest Decembers on record -- this is the snowiest December in Chicago history since 1951.

Perhaps if we give you a wider perspective, you can see just how much snow has piled up here.

They also tell us this is one of the coldest Decembers on record. That makes it very difficult to get of some of the snow.

Perhaps you see another perspective of the city -- as we expect maybe four, five inches or so.

The commissioner of the department of streets and sanitation's with me.

Al Sanchez, what do you think today?

AL SANCHEZ, CHICAGO STREET AND SANITATION COMMISSIONER: Well, I think they're talking three to five inches, and of course...

FLOCK: That's nothing for you.

SANCHEZ: Well, it's a lot when it gets on the ground and we have to plow it, but based on what we got in the past, in the last month, it certainly is not as much as we have been receiving, and you know, we'll handle it.

FLOCK: Chicago takes its snow very seriously. Back in the late '70s, you remember how it changed the political fates of this city, when the snow didn't get moved around fast enough? SANCHEZ: Well, I've read about it, and it's a footnote in Chicago political history, but of course, you...

FLOCK: You don't want another one, right?

SANCHEZ: Well, of course not, and we take snow very seriously, and we work on it very hard.

FLOCK: Give me the numbers: I hear 140,000 tons of snow already -- what percentage of your pile is that?

SANCHEZ: Well, about half of...

FLOCK: Did I say snow? Did I mean salt, didn't I -- I meant salt, I might have said salt.

SANCHEZ: Well, that's what we've been using. We got enough snow, using salt now. It's 140,000 tons of salt: That's about half of our -- less than half. We've had 310,000 on hand, but we replenish it as we use it, and we'll be ready for anything else we get the rest of the year.

FLOCK: So, even if it continues at this pace, you're still in good shape.

SANCHEZ: Oh, absolutely -- I mean salt is an important factor in fighting snow here in Chicago.

FLOCK: Richard Sanchez, thanks for coming, appreciate it very much.

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