Much of U.S. Faces Record Cold Winter

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WASHINGTON -- This week the United States is facing what could be its worst winter in 25 years.

Whether buried under a colossal record 33 inches of snow in Vermont or braving the unseasonably low temperatures blanketing the South, the bitter cold and snow has left millions of Americans in a deep freeze.

"I'm miserable," one woman said. "I don't understand why people live this far north. It's so cold right now. It's awful."

The snow extended Christmas vacation for some children. For others whose classes weren't canceled, moms and dads made sure they were dressed to keep warm.

"Put on plenty of layers for him," Chicago mom Aivana Kendall said. "I told him 'put on your long johns,' and reminded him to put on his gloves. I don't know what happened this morning. We were rushing out."

Meanwhile, homeless shelters across the country, like a Salvation Army shelter in Florida, are preparing for full houses.

"They'll be given a hot dinner and a mat on the floor and a blanket and breakfast in the morning," the Salvation Army's Sally Gress said.

For Vietnam veteran Frederick Bowman, who lives on the streets of Chicago, the effort to stay warm is nothing new.

"I usually end up going to McDonalds. Get some coffee. Go to the train station as long as security don't mess with me until I get warm. Use their hand warmers in the bathroom. But it's all just temporary," Bowman said.

The deep freeze has also settled in all along the East Coast.

In the nation's capital, temperatures have been below normal for the past week or more and will likely stay that way for at least another week.

"The wind chill makes it a little bit biting sometimes, but it's definitely cold," said one resident.

While residents in Houston were dancing in the streets and braving the coldest Texas winter in 14 years, Florida farmers are bracing for more cold weather.

"We'll be watering and praying," farmer John Alger said.

Below-freezing temperatures are threatening to destroy strawberry and citrus crops from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle.

"I've already made it through this morning," Alger said. "We had cloud cover. We only hit 39 degrees - not bad. It's Wednesday morning that we're very concerned."

But this cold snap is unusually long. Florida farmers are preparing to fight for their crops all week as the low temperatures keep their crops at risk.

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