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Ice storm causes blackouts, 17 deaths

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Chastity
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« on: December 10, 2007, 11:20:59 pm »

Ice storm causes blackouts, 17 deaths

By KEN MILLER, Associated Press Writer
18 minutes ago
 


OKLAHOMA CITY - A wintry storm caked the center of the nation with a thick layer of ice Monday, blacking out more than 600,000 homes and businesses, and more icy weather was on the way. At least 17 deaths in Oklahoma and Missouri were blamed on the conditions, with 15 of them killed on slick highways.

 
A state of emergency was declared for all of Oklahoma, where the sound of branches snapping under the weight of the ice echoed through Oklahoma City.

"You can hear them falling everywhere," Lonnie Compton said Monday as he shoveled ice off his driveway.

The National Weather Service posted ice and winter storm warnings Tuesday for parts of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois. Missouri declared an emergency on Sunday and put the National Guard on alert.

Oklahoma utilities said a half-million customers were blacked out as power lines snapped under the weight of ice and falling tree branches, the biggest power outage in state history, and utilities in Missouri said more than 100,000 homes and business had no power there.

"If you do the math, probably one out of three Oklahomans has no electricity at this point," said Gil Broyles, a spokesman for Oklahoma Gas & Electric, the state's largest utility.

Roughly 11,000 customers were blacked out in southern Illinois and more than 5,000 had no electric heat or lights in Kansas, where Gov. Kathleen Sebelius declared a statewide state of emergency.

At O'Hare International Airport, about 100 flights were canceled by Monday afternoon, with delays of about 45 minutes, said Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Karen Pride. No flights were canceled at Midway Airport, but a handful of flights were delayed about an hour, she said.

Ice was as much as an inch thick on tree limbs and power lines in parts of the region.

Schools across Oklahoma were closed and some hospitals were relying on backup power generators. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers sent 50 generators and three truckloads of bottled water from Texas to distribute to blacked-out areas of Oklahoma.

Tulsa International Airport had no power for about 10 hours and halted flight operations for the day, and most morning flights at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City were canceled because of icy runways. Greyhound bus passengers were stranded overnight at a shelter in a church in Tulsa, and were joined by some local residents who had no heat.

Portions of Interstate 35 and Interstate 44 were shut down early Monday afternoon in Oklahoma City after ice-laden power lines collapsed and fell into the roadways.

Oklahoma utility officials said it could be a week or more before power was fully restored.

"This is a big one. We've got a massive situation here and it's probably going to be a week to 10 days before we get power on to everybody," said Ed Bettinger, a spokesman for Public Service Company. "It looks like a war zone."

The Oklahoma City suburb of Jones, a town of 2,500 people, had low water pressure because there was no electricity to run well pumps, and firefighters said an early morning fire destroyed most of the community's high school.

Since the storm began, Tulsa firefighters have responded to dozens of structural fires, most attributable to the storm, said Sheryl Lovelady, a city spokeswoman. One person was killed by smoke inhalation in a storm-related fire, she said; she did not provide details.

The icy weather stretched into the Northeast, where many schools across upstate New York were closed or started late because of icy roads.

On ice-covered Interstate 40 west of Okemah, Okla., four people died in "one huge cluster of an accident" that involved 11 vehicles, said Highway Patrol Trooper Betsey Randolph.

Ten other people died on icy Oklahoma roads, and Missouri had two storm-related deaths one on a slippery highway and another when a tree limb fell on a 92-year-old man's head. In addition, a homeless person died of hypothermia in Oklahoma City, the state medical examiner's office said.

___

Associated Press writers Jeff Latzke in Oklahoma City, Marcus Kabel in Springfield, Mo., John Milburn in Topeka, Kan., and Cheryl Wittenauer in St. Louis contributed to this report.
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« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2007, 11:23:13 pm »



Downtown Tulsa in the grip of an ice storm, taken in Tulsa, Okla., on Monday, Dec. 10, 2007. A blast of cold air turned rain into a freezing drizzle Monday, blanketing the state in ice.
(AP Photo/Tulsa World,James Gibbard)
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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2007, 11:26:36 pm »



A statue is covered in ice in Spencer, Okla., Monday, Dec. 10, 2007. A winter storm coated much of Oklahoma in ice Monday, knocking out power to more than 400,000 homes and businesses, disrupting flight operations and leading to traffic accidents that killed 12 people.
(AP Photo)
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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2007, 11:28:50 pm »



Fallen tree limbs cover Britton Road after a Ice storm in eastern Oklahoma County, Monday, Dec. 10, 2007.
(AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel)
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« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2007, 11:31:24 pm »



Trees covered in ice fall into the roadway in Nichols Hills, Okla., near Oklahoma City, Monday, Dec. 10, 2007. A winter storm dumped ice across Oklahoma and more than 200,000 power outages were reported early Monday and schools across the state were closed because of the conditions.
(AP Photo)
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« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2007, 11:32:32 pm »



Crews work to remove trees from power lines on in January 2007 in Pryor, Oklahoma. At least 11 people have been killed as an ice storm swept the United States Monday, turning roads into slippery death-traps and leaving hundreds of thousands without power, officials said.
(AFP/Getty Images/File/Brandi Simons )
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« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2007, 11:34:48 pm »



Trees outside the state Capitol in Oklahoma City are coated with ice, Monday, Dec. 10, 2007. A winter storm dumped ice across Oklahoma and more than 200,000 power outages were reported early Monday and schools across the state were closed because of the conditions.
(AP Photo)
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« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2007, 11:36:07 pm »



Icicles hang from a statue of Abraham Lincoln in front of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library in Springfield, Ill., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2007. The brunt of an icy winter storm system hit central Illinois leaving up to a quarter of an inch of ice accumulation and creating dangerous driving conditions.
(AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
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