A huge winter storm swept
the U.S. Thursday and Friday leaving ice and snow from
Texas to New York.
As an inch-thick coating of ice covered a vast area of
Oklahoma, Oklahoma Gas and Electric was calling the
storm the worst in the company's 100-year history. More
than a quarter million people were without power
Thursday. By Friday nearly 200,000 were still without
power, and it may be several days before they'll see
lights and heat.
Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating declared a disaster
emergency in 28 counties.
The National Weather Service reported it was Oklahoma's
worst winter storm since December 2000, and could be
classified as one of the state's worst ice storms in
history since the most recent storm affected a
significantly larger area and affected more people than
the December 2000 one.
The worst icing occurred from west-central through north-
central Oklahoma, the National Weather Service reported.
Shelters were opened across the affected area, with one
in the Hennessey United Methodist Church.
Church World Service (CWS) sent 1,000 blankets -- valued
at $4,660 -- to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma
Friday. CWS Disaster Resource Consultant Lura Cayton,
who is affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples
of Christ), has been coordinating response with Oklahoma
state emergency management officials.
In Missouri, more than 100,000 people were without power
Forty-five shelters opened across the west-central and
northern parts of the state, according to Susie Stonner,
public information officer for Missouri emergency
Stonner said The Salvation Army, local churches, and
American Red Cross were assisting people in shelters.
"The priority now is restoring electricity," she said.
"Power outages have hit rural areas not just Kansas
In the city, Stonner said power would likely be restored
Saturday but in rural areas it could take up to five
The Missouri Emergency Management Agency reported that
debris removal will present major problems in the coming
days. Power crews from all over the mid-west are helping
power companies in the affected areas.
Disaster recovery teams from Missouri emergency
management are planning to travel to affected
communities to assess damages.
More than 20 Kansas counties were under a state of
emergency. Missouri Gov. Bob Holden declared Kansas City
and surrounding areas in a state of emergency Thursday
Cheri Baer, a Kansas-based Church World Service disaster
resource consultant, said that the storm was unusual in
that it was so widespread. "The southern half of Kansas
had mostly ice," she said.
In the Kansas City area alone, some 238,000 people were
without power. Kansas City officials said they had not
seen power outages approaching this since 1996, when a
smaller winter storm hit. It took five days to restore
power that year.
Ice covered most of Kansas City, and there were numerous
fires caused by downed power lines.
In the city of Gladstone, about 90 people spent Thursday
night at the Antioch Bible Baptist College.
About 184,000 were without power in Michigan, with
63,000 out in Indiana, and 47,000 in Ohio.
New York had its emergency operations center open
Thursday morning. About 41,000 people were without power
in the western part of that state, according to Dennis
Michalski, public information officer at the New York
state emergency coordination center.
Michalski said power would be restored for most New
Yorkers Friday or over the weekend.
In New Hampshire, schools were canceled Friday as a
mixture of rain and sleet hit most parts of the state,
according to Jim Van Dongen, public information officer
for New Hampshire emergency management.
The storm dumped 10 inches of snow in Vermont Thursday.
At least 20 deaths across the U.S. have been blamed on
Winds of 40 mph were sweeping many southern and mid-
Atlantic states Friday.
Meanwhile Tampa, FL broke its warm weather record as
temperatures soared into the upper 80s.
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