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Massive Ice Storm Slams Midwest, 1000s Stranded

By Katie Lawson, Staff Writer

Massive Ice Storm Slams Midwest

Vehicles drive on the I-35 highway in the suburb of Merriam in Kansas City, Kansas December 11, 2007. Sleet and freezing rain blanketed much of central United States with a thick coating of ice on Tuesday, killing more than a dozen people and knocking out power to nearly a million homes and businesses.

A cold front that began Sunday swept through the Midwest, bringing sub-freezing temperatures and a combination of rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow. Officials in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma have declared states of emergency, while more winter weather remains in the forecast.

In Oklahoma, ice accumulation ranged between a glaze and one inch across most of the state, causing widespread power outages and treacherous travel conditions. The storms have caused the biggest power outage in state history, with an estimated half a million homes and businesses still without power today across the state.

The Tulsa Red Cross chapter opened 20 shelters in the area and is working with the Southern Baptist Convention to provide meals for those staying in the shelters. Other Red Cross chapters in Oklahoma have also opened shelters and continue to support community shelters while monitoring the situation for additional needs.

As custodians of nearly half of the nation's blood supply, the Red Cross is also taking steps to prevent the ice storms from affecting blood collections. The Renaissance Hotel in Tulsa agreed to host a blood drive in the hotel today to give stranded guests the opportunity to help out.

Elsewhere, schools in Iowa and Wisconsin have been closed this week and Des Moines International Airport was closed Monday due to ice. Media reports state that about an inch of ice was expected from the storm Tuesday over parts of Iowa, followed by up to five inches of sleet and snow.

In Kansas, more than 5,000 residents are without power. Kansas Red Cross chapters have pre-positioned supplies and opened two shelters in the state.

Although temperatures in the Midwest are expected to reach above freezing today, cooler weather will remain in the area for the next several days. The Red Cross remains on alert to provide shelter, food and comfort to residents in the nation's midsection.


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