Mar 13, 2015

Why the Chicago heat wave of 1995 needs a 20-year remembrance

Chicago, IL
USA
by
Chris Jones
,
The Chicago Tribune
A 101-year-old woman is assisted after being overcome by heat later in the summer when an electrical fire knocked out the power in her apartment building. Photo: Chicago Tribune
A 101-year-old woman is assisted after being overcome by heat later in the summer when an electrical fire knocked out the power in her apartment building. Photo: Chicago Tribune

It took a long time — far too long — for anyone to realize that there was a crisis unfolding in Chicago that summer. Those of us who lived in Chicago at that time recall the story unfolding very slowly. People die in a big city. More people die when it gets hot. Older people are more likely to die than younger. The victims of the heat wave died mostly alone; this was not a plane crash or a fire. Deaths in isolation take time to piece together. The notion of blame is very complicated.