Ice storm knocks out power from Ohio to Arkansas

Utility employees work to restore power lines Thursday in Velvet Ridge, Ark. More than a million homes and businesses were left in the cold without power Thursday in the wake of an icy storm.

Associated Press

Utility employees work to restore power lines Thursday in Velvet Ridge, Ark. More than a million homes and businesses were left in the cold without power Thursday in the wake of an icy storm.

CADIZ, Ky. — Storm-battered residents of several states hunkered down in frigid homes and shelters Thursday, expecting to spend at least a week without power and waiting in long lines to buy generators, firewood, groceries and bottled water.

Utility companies in Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, Arkansas and West Virginia warned that the estimated 1.3 million people left in the dark by an ice storm wouldn't have power back before Saturday at the earliest, and at worst, as late as mid February.

Already, the situation was becoming dire for some communities in Kentucky, where the power outages crippled pumping stations and cut off access to water. Utility crews found themselves up against roads blocked by ice-caked power lines, downed trees and other debris. Help from around the country was arriving in convoys to assist the states with the worst outages. But with so many homes and businesses in the dark — there were more than 600,000 across Kentucky alone — the effort is still expected to take days, if not weeks.

Hundreds of shelters opened, and deputies in some communities went door to door to let people know where they were. Because phone service and Internet connections are spotty in many places, there wasn't another way. In Harrodsburg, Ky., where phone service was restored, residents were asked to call 911 if they needed transport to shelters, said John Trisler, the county's judge executive.

In Caruthersville, Mo., near the Tennessee border, church leaders and other volunteers knocked on the doors of the elderly and handicapped residents to make sure they were all right. A generator was in use to distribute some water in town, but fire Chief Charlie Jones had concerns about what would happen when the temporary measure ran out.

Since the storm began Monday, the weather has been blamed for at least 27 deaths, including six in Texas, four in Arkansas, three in Virginia, six in Missouri, two in Oklahoma, two in Indiana, two in West Virginia and one each in Ohio and Kentucky.

Ice storm knocks out power from Ohio to Arkansas 01/29/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 29, 2009 11:53pm]

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