No power for thousands till Mid February

January 29, 2009

(ChattahBox) — More than a million homes and businesses have been left without power Thursday in the wake of an icy winter storm across the Southern Plains through to the East Coast, and could face a lengthy wait for electricity to come back.

Utility officials estimated more than 1.3 million homes and businesses across a wide swath of states were powerless early Thursday, and warned it could be mid-February before some customers had power.

The storm has been blamed for at least 23 deaths so far. Since the storm began building Monday, the weather has been blamed for at least six deaths in Texas, four in Arkansas, three in Virginia, six in Missouri, two in Oklahoma, and one each in Indiana and Ohio. Some parts of New England were expected to see well over a foot of snow as the storm kept moving northeast, but because it turned to snow, ice-related power failures weren’t as big of a concern.

Many flocked to shelters, while others huddled next to wood-burning fires and portable heaters to fend off the frigid night air. Some who stayed put relied on gas stoves to cook food. Meanwhile, emergency officials feared the crisis could escalate as temperatures plunged. Other communities urged people to conserve water because the outages could limit supplies.

Late Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed requests from Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe for federal emergency declarations. Crews — even the National Guard in Kentucky — worked around the clock to resurrect power lines downed by thick ice in both states. Officials in states from Oklahoma to West Virginia fought to do the same.

More than a half-million were without power in Kentucky, where the power outages produced by the ice storm were outdone only by the remnants of Hurricane Ike, which lashed the state with fierce winds last year, leaving about 600,000 customers without power.


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