Oklahoma braces for second winter storm
Hundreds of thousands of Oklahoma homes and businesses remained without power Thursday afternoon with another winter storm barreling into the state today and expected to bring up to 4 inches of snow in some parts of the state.
The National Weather Service issued winter weather watches for the northwestern two-thirds of the state from this afternoon through Saturday morning.
The storm that hit the state earlier in the week downed trees and power lines, resulting in the biggest power outage in the state's history, and was blamed for at least 23 deaths, 13 on icy roads, eight in house fires and two because of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Gov. Brad Henry estimated that damage from the storm would exceed $200 million, and called it the most expensive disaster in state history because it was so widespread.
"Unfortunately, Oklahoma is familiar with natural disasters," he said. "And as a result, we have the best response in the world."
State officials were also preparing an ice storm damage assessment Thursday in preparation for seeking a disaster declaration from President Bush as early as today. Mr. Bush declared a state of emergency for the entire state Monday, freeing up federal assistance, including generators, water, cots and food.
Utility crews have made steady progress, whittling the number of electric customers without service from more than 600,000 at the storm's peak to about 342,000 Thursday afternoon. Area shelters were filled, as some residents were on their fourth or fifth day without electricity.