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Storm throws Grinch into Christmas

Tornadoes, flooding, blizzards all make life miserable across broad swath of country

BALTIMORE | December 25, 2009

The Grinch brought a major winter storm to the U.S. Thursday with deadly tornadoes in Louisiana, blizzard conditions from Oklahoma City north to the Canadian border and flooding in Arkansas. On Friday, motorists were still being rescued in Oklahoma and sandbags were being distributed in Washington, DC where flooding is predicted.

St. Peter’s Resurrection Catholic Church in Whiteville was destroyed and one person was killed Thursday in Scott when an outbreak of at least eight tornadoes and high winds blew blew down trees. Tornadoes destroyed or damaged dozens of other homes in the southern Louisiana towns of Crowley, Acadia and Gueydan, LA.

In Oklahoma Friday, the National Guard and other emergency workers were still rescuing motorists stranded by the storm. More than a dozen churches opened their doors on Christmas Eve to become impromtu shelters. At least three deaths have been blamed on the severe weather and two Interstate highways -- I-35 and I-40 are still closed.

Emergency officials said Friday thousands of cars were abandoned along roads in Oklahoma during the storm, complicating snow removal efforts.

In Arkansas, dozens of highways were closed by high water Thursday after as much as eight inches of rain fell in some locations.

A flood watch has been posted for Washington, DC, Friday night and Saturday where forecasters have said as much as two-inches of rain could fall on top of more than 18-inches of snow that fell last week. Emergency officials were distributing sandbags for city residents on Friday.

And in West Virginia, more than 30,000 customers were still without electricity Friday morning. A spokesperson for Appalachian Power said it hoped to restore power to most customers by Friday night. The power has been out since last weekend. Local fire companies and other first responders have been delivering emergency supplies to residents.

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