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Ref: Ice storms in Oklahoma raise resiliency issues

The State

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Oklahoma still in the dark after storm

Associated Press Writer
More than 88,000 homes and businesses in Oklahoma remained without power on Tuesday, more than a week after an ice storm plunged them into darkness.

Utility crews estimated that crews would have power restored by late Wednesday or Thursday. Meanwhile, overnight temperatures in the state in the past week have dipped into the teens.

Many residents have a new problem to rival dwindling temperatures: dwindling bank accounts. Some have spent their money to stay in hotels, thinking power at home would be restored within a day or two, or depleted their funds by stocking up before the storm on food that has now spoiled.

"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 found a place to sleep and hot meals over the weekend 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 temporary walk-up stations in nine central Oklahoma cities for customers to report power failures.

Margy Knight, who owns several rental and commercial properties in south Oklahoma City that are without power, said she's 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."

Jerry Odom said he's tried to make the best of the situation, attending a Blazers hockey game at the Cox Center and taking a walk through the nearby Oklahoma City Botanical Gardens.

"I'm trying to make a vacation out of it," Odom said. "I'm dealing with it the best I can."

Oklahoma was hardest hit by the ice storm that struck the Midwest and Northeast last week. The state medical examiner's office said the storm contributed to at least 27 of the region's 38 total deaths.

In Kansas, where six of those deaths were blamed on last week's storm, about 24,000 customers remained without power, and some of those in rural areas might not see electricity restored for a week or more. The reason is another winter storm expected later 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 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. At least eight traffic deaths were reported.

Associated Press writer John Milburn in Topeka, Kan., contributed to this report.
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