Thousands Face Cold, Dark Nights Ahead

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More than a million people found themselves without electrical power, Thursday, after an icy winter storm blasted its way across the country from the Southern Plains to the East Coast.

More than 1.31 million homes and businesses across several states are now without electricity, according to utility officials.

Click play to watch the CBN News report followed by Pat Robertson's salute to the utility crews working to get the power restored in the affected areas.

And even as crews worked around the clock to restore power lines downed by thick ice, officials said many people could be waiting until mid-February before electricity returns to their frigid homes.

"We're attacking it head on," Appalachian Power spokesman Phil Moye said. "As long as the ice is still on the trees, the storm is still here."

Fallen tree limbs and power lines have made roads impassable, hampering recovery efforts.  In light of the dreary conditions, many now fear a rising death toll.

"I'm so worried that we're going to have a death due to hypothermia or carbon monoxide," said John Robinson, severe weather coordinator for the National Weather Service at North Little Rock, Ark.  If those with power use space heaters improperly, it can generate dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

Federal Disaster Areas Declared

Late Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed federal emergency declarations for the states of Kentucky and Arkansas in order to get federal help to the states as soon as possible.

Many people headed to local shelters, while others chose to warm themselves next to wood-burning fires and portable heaters to fend off the frigid night air. Some relied on gas stoves to cook food. Meanwhile, emergency officials feared the crisis could escalate as temperatures plunged.

"I'm so worried that we're going to have a death due to hypothermia or carbon monoxide," said John Robinson, the severe weather coordinator for the National Weather Service at North Little Rock, Ark. Space heaters, if improperly used, can generate dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

In other communities people were advised to conserve water since the power outages could limit supplies.

More Than 500,000 Without Power in Kentucky Alone

More than 500,000 customers were without power in Kentucky. The state has not seen power outages in this capacity, since the remnants of Hurricane Ike lashed the state with fierce winds last year, leaving about 600,000 customers without power.

"We've got lots of counties that do not have any communication, any heat, any power," said Gov. Steve Beshear.

Kyle Brashears' family huddled in their Mountain Home, Ark., home before going to stay with relatives after half an ice-caked oak tree fell on their roof.

"It caved the roof in and ripped the gutter off, although it didn't penetrate inside," he said. "I was walking around outside until about 1 a.m. and it was just a nonstop medley of tree limbs cracking off."

The weather has been blamed for at least six deaths in Texas, four in Arkansas, three in Virginia, six in Missouri, two in Oklahoma, and one each in Indiana and Ohio.

Source: The Associated Press

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