Police, FEMA respond to massive Midwest ice storm



Gov. Steve Beshear, left, talks with McCracken County Sheriff Jon Hayden as they view a road lined with downed trees and power lines in Paducah, Ky. Because phone and Internet service has been spotty, deputies have trekked door-to-door in many communities to let people know where shelters are. (AP Photo)

By Kristin M. Hall
The Associated Press

MURRAY, Ky. — Utility crews made some progress Friday in restoring power to the more than 1.3 million homes and businesses darkened by an ice storm that crippled states from Missouri to West Virginia, but thousands were still bunking in toasty shelters because their homes had no water or heat.

Deputies trekked door-to-door in many communities to let people know where shelters were, forced to spread the word the old-fashioned way because cell phone and Internet service was spotty. In some towns, volunteers checked to make sure their elderly and disabled neighbors were all right.

Many Kentucky hotels offering discounted "power outage rates" reported being fully booked with people escaping frosty neighborhoods. Those who hunkered down in their homes face long lines to buy generators, firewood, groceries - even bottled water because power outages crippled local pumping stations.

Truckloads of ready-to-eat meals, water and generators from the Federal Emergency Management Agency were expected to arrive Friday at a staging area in Fort Campbell, Ky., said Mary Hudak, a spokeswoman for FEMA's southeast region.

Since the storm began Monday, the weather has been blamed for at least 35 deaths, including six in Texas, nine in Arkansas, three in Virginia, six in Missouri, two in Oklahoma, two in Indiana, two in West Virginia, three in Kentucky and one in Ohio. Emergency officials feared that toll could rise if people stay in their homes without power for too long, because improper use of generators can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press

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