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One week on and the big freeze stays

AS hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians in the United States lingered in the dark nearly a week after an ice storm wrecked the state's power grid, National Guard troops prepared to go door-to-door to check on residents.

Utility crews worked feverishly to restore electricity amid the largest state power outage on record. Guardsmen cleared roads with chain saws and some residents bundled up for another night around a wood-burning stove, looking for any way possible to stay warm.

With more than 700,000 Kentucky homes and businesses still without electricity on Saturday, the state was a long way from recovering after an ice storm left a swath of destruction throughout the United States' midsection.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear on Saturday deployed every one of his Army National Guardsmen ?? some 4,600 troops. Authorities said that they were investigating roughly a dozen deaths in Kentucky alone. A Louisville man who had been burning charcoal in a grill inside an apartment was apparently killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, the latest weather-related death.

The storm that began in the Midwest has been blamed or suspected in at least 42 deaths, including nine in Arkansas, six each in Texas and Missouri, three in Virginia, two each in Oklahoma, Indiana and West Virginia and one in Ohio. Most were killed by hypothermia, traffic accidents or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Kentucky was the hardest-hit state. Monday's icy wallop encrusted a large part of the state in a mantle so thick it shattered utility poles, toppled trees and drove thousands from frigid homes to shelters. Officials had previously reported that 607,000 Kentucky customers were without power, but later said that figure did not include municipal utilities or rural electric cooperatives within the Tennessee Valley Authority system.

Meanwhile, officials told those still shivering in dark, unheated homes to seek safe refuge in motels and places with power or generators.

Finding fuel - heating oil along with gas for cars and generators - was a struggle for those trying to tough it out at home.


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