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Illinois governor declares disaster proclamation after storm

February 16, 2021 GMT
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A woman crosses Wabash Avenue Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, after an overnight storm dumped up to 18.5 inches in the Chicago area. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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A woman crosses Wabash Avenue Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, after an overnight storm dumped up to 18.5 inches in the Chicago area. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHICAGO (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared a disaster proclamation for Illinois on Tuesday, after a winter storm blanketed wide sections of the state with snow and caused power outages.

The declaration means Illinois can tap additional state help and seek federal assistance. Parts of the Chicago area got up to a foot and a half (45.7 centimeters) of snow, shuttering schools to in-person classes as officials urged residents to stay off the snow-filled roads.

Roughly 7,000 Illinois households were without power, according to Pritzker’s office.

“I have directed my administration to use all resources at our disposal to keep our communities safe amid dangerous and ongoing winter weather,” Pritzker said in a statement. “We are also working with our federal partners to pursue federal assistance to help communities recover and to do what we can to protect ratepayers from soaring utility bills.”

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The National Weather Service reported that 18 inches (45.7 centimeters) of snow had fallen in Evanston by 8 a.m. Tuesday, while Midway International Airport had 17.7 inches (45 centimeters) and O’Hare International airport reported 7.5 inches (19 centimeters). Parts of Springfield got about 6 inches (15.24 centimeters), as did Carbondale in southern Illinois.

The heavy snowfall prompted some schools go online, including in Chicago where some students started in person last week.

Federal court hearings were cancelled in Chicago, although scheduled in-person hearings in the Eastern and Western divisions of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois were expected to continue remotely or will be rescheduled.