WEST ROGERS PARK — Some residents living in a six-block stretch of North Francisco Avenue have been without natural gas — and heat — since Sunday as crews have worked in near-freezing temperatures to fix a busted main.
"It was horrible," said Donna Makowski, an attorney who moved her elderly mother from her apartment after temperatures inside plummeted Sunday night. "The weather was cold. I find that abhorrent because ... my mother’s 83 years old."
Makowski said she had trouble finding out what the problem was Sunday afternoon when her mother's boiler stopped working.
Then, about 2:30 a.m. Monday, workers with People's Gas rang the doorbell and explained they needed to disconnect her meter.
Crews have since blocked off Francisco at Devon to excavate the line and "identify the source of water infiltration into our system," said Jennifer Block, the natural gas supplier's spokeswoman.
Block said Francisco residents from Arthur Avenue at the north and Peterson Avenue at the south have been without service. Technicians were using a special camera to look for the source of the leak, she said.
Tom LaPorte, assistant commissioner with the city's Department of Water Management, said there was a leak found nearby where People's Gas crews were working, but could not definitively say it was related to the gas outage.
"We're sending out a crew to fix" the water leak, he said Monday afternoon.
In the meantime, residents will have to bundle up.
Recorded temperatures bottomed out at 19 degrees early Monday, but it warmed up during the day. The National Weather Service forecasted a low near 30 degrees Monday night.
If the main isn't fixed by Tuesday, resident could get a slight reprieve with a forecasted high of 42 degrees.
"Of course it's cold, think about it," said Evanglia Travlos, who owns and lives in a building in the 6300 block of North Francisco Avenue.
Bundled up outside her building Monday, Travlos said she was understanding of the circumstances.
"They had some kind of accident," she said. "They say there's some problem and they're trying to fix it."
Some residents, like Ljubisa Krneta, said Monday afternoon that their gas service had been restored after only a short disruption.
People's Gas didn't disclose how many households were affected.
Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th) said Monday she was "trying to get to the bottom" of what happened, too.
Makowski, the attorney, said she's waiting to hear that the gas service has been restored so she can move her mother back to her home of 40 years.
She said the shutoff could have been better communicated to the community.
"Oh my gosh," she said, "look at this entire community without heat."