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Huge winter storm strikes

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE, MD | February 1, 2002

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

Friday.

Forty-five shelters opened across the west-central and

northern parts of the state, according to Susie Stonner,

public information officer for Missouri emergency

management.

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

City."

In the city, Stonner said power would likely be restored

Saturday but in rural areas it could take up to five

days.

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

afternoon.

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

the storm.

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.


Related Topics:

Winter storms could spell doom for some churches

Bitter cold forecast for Northeast

Snow? Whoa! New England braces for even more!


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