Thousands In Okla., Kansas Still In Dark

(AP) Power outages kept more than 91,000 homes and businesses in the dark early Tuesday, more than a week after an ice storm battered the U.S. state of Oklahoma, and the emergency has outlasted the ability of many residents to pay for it.

Some depleted their funds stocking up before the storm on food that went bad when the power went out. Others used money to stay in a hotel, thinking electricity would be restored within a day or two.

"We've had people using generators who ran out of money for fuel to operate the generators," said Vince Hernandez, chairman of the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma.

Hundreds of people have found hot meals and a place to sleep at a temporary shelter established at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma Gas & Electric, the state's largest electric utility, set up walk-up stations in nine cities for customers to report power failures. Officials have said power should be restored by late Wednesday or Thursday.

Margy Knight, who owns several rental and commercial properties in south Oklahoma City that are without power, said she was getting frustrated with the lack of progress.

"I'm trying real hard not to be tacky," Knight said. "I think they're doing the best they can, but they need more manpower."

Meanwhile, overnight temperatures over the past week have dipped into the teens (-10 to -7 Celsius).

"We've got eight days without lights," said 7-year-old Josue Velasquez, who came to one walk-up station with his mother, Rebeca Rascon. Josue said they "just sit on the couch and wait for the lights to come on" in their "very cold" south Oklahoma City home.

The state medical examiner's office said the ice storm contributed to at least 27 deaths: 16 in traffic accidents, eight in fires, two from carbon monoxide fumes and one from hypothermia.

In the state of Kansas, where six deaths were blamed on last week's storm, about 24,000 customers remained without power, and some rural areas might not have electricity restored for a week or more. The reason is another winter storm expected this week, said Larry Detwiler of the Kansas Electric Cooperatives.

"We all hope for everybody to be back on by Christmas," he said. "I'm not sure that's a realistic goal."

While the Plains states struggled to put power back on, a swath of the country from the Great Lakes to New England dug out from a weekend storm that dumped 18 inches of snow in some places.

School districts across the region canceled classes Monday. Snow blown by winds gusting to 35 mph cut visibility and made driving hazardous. At least eight traffic deaths were reported.


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