CHICAGO—Promising that every effort would be made to limit the impact on residents’ day-to-day lives, Chicago officials announced Wednesday that a fleet of plows was working around the clock to clear more than 18 inches of fresh bullet casings that had blanketed the metropolitan area overnight.
Sources at the city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation confirmed that over 250 ammunition-removal vehicles had been deployed to deal with the knee-deep layer of spent cartridges, which have been steadily accumulating on Chicago’s streets, alleys, and pedestrian walkways since the previous evening.
“Our crews have been out there all night trying to make our roadways passable, but given how quickly the handgun and semi-automatic shells have piled up, it’s going to take some time,” DSS commissioner Charles L. Williams told reporters, thanking the public for its patience while crews made their way across the stricken municipality. “We’re making good headway, but as you can imagine, it’s not an easy job, especially with casings continuing to fall throughout the city.”
“So unless you have an emergency, we’re urging all citizens to stay put for the time being,” he added. “Right now, it’s just not safe to be out in such treacherous conditions.”
Williams stated that as casing levels surpassed 12 inches, scores of extra workers from outside the city were called in to help keep pace with the buildup. In addition, numerous dump truck crews have reportedly been tasked with carting off entire trailers full of cartridges from the hardest-hit areas and depositing them in nearby landfills before circling back to pick up more.
According to sources, by the morning rush hour, over 300 public and private schools in the Chicago area had been either closed or delayed due to concerns over the large amounts of ammunition covering the city. Citing increased hazards, officials further advised residents to stay off back streets and avoid venturing out at night.
“Man, it’s brutal out there,” said Paul Bergeron, 34, a resident of the Lawndale neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side, showing reporters where plows had piled up over nine feet of empty casings in the parking lot of the grocery store across from his apartment. “I ran out to Walgreens, and on my way back, I nearly took a spill trudging through all the .40-caliber shells—I just wanted to get home as quickly as possible.”
“Growing up in Kansas, I never saw anything nearly like this, but it is what it is,” he continued. “When you’re living here, you learn to deal with the bullets and adjust your life accordingly.”
Some locals, however, have complained that the areas receiving priority attention from the city’s plows were not consistent with those that had been most severely affected. In Chicago’s western and southern neighborhoods, for example, eyewitnesses reported that cartridges had risen as high as some first-floor windows, making it difficult for the occupants to even open their front doors.
“The plows always seem to get to the rich neighborhoods first, that’s for sure,” said Gloria Hawkins, 53, a lifelong resident of the South Side community of Auburn Gresham. “Down here, you have no choice but to go out there into the ammo and shovel your car out yourself. It can be pretty frustrating when things are really bad out, because by the time you finish clearing the walk in front of your house, there’s already an inch or two of fresh bullet casings piling up where you started.”
“But we’ll get through it, just like we always do,” Hawkins continued. “This city is very much used to this sort of thing.”