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Date: 1/29/2009

By KRISTIN M. HALL
Associated Press Writer

PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) — Storm-battered residents of several states hunkered down in frigid homes and shelters Thursday, expecting to spend at least a week without power and waiting in long lines to buy generators, firewood, groceries and bottled water.

Utility companies in Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, Arkansas and West Virginia warned that the estimated 1.3 million people left in the dark by an ice storm wouldn’t have power back before Saturday at the earliest, and at worst, as late as mid-February.

Already, the situation was becoming dire for some communities in Kentucky, where the power outages crippled pumping stations and cut off access to water. Tracie and Jeff Augustinovich drove 15 miles from their home in the western Kentucky town of Rock Castle to buy groceries. Their home had very little running water, and though they stocked up before the storm, they weren’t sure their supplies will last.

“We’re buying up anything that we can eat cold,” Tracie Augustinovich said.

In Paducah, Amber Fiers and her neighbor Miranda Brittan tried a half-dozen filling stations before finding one where they could buy kerosene. The two were in a line that swelled to 50 or more at the 13th Street Station, which began pumping kerosene after its owner set up a generator.

“We got food, but I’m just worried about staying warm,” said, Brittan who lives in Mayfield, adding she was frustrated by the search for supplies.

“By the time you hear about a place that’s open they’re out when you get there,” she said.

Utility crews found themselves up against roads blocked by ice-caked power lines, downed trees and other debris. Help from around the country was arriving in convoys to assist the states with the worst outages. But with so many homes and businesses in the dark — there were more than 600,000 across Kentucky alone — the effort is still expected to take days, if not weeks.

At a mall turned into a staging area in Barboursville, W.Va., crews in hard hats met alongside piles of poles, generators, wire and other supplies to find out where to go first.

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

St. Louis-based AmerenUE said it had added 800 workers to its efforts to restore power in southeast Missouri, and another 800 were expected Friday.

“As we restore some, we’re losing others. The ice is just so treacherous,” said utility spokeswoman Susan Gallagher.

Federal officials are hauling truckloads of water, ready-to-eat meals and large generators to a staging area at Fort Campbell in southwestern Kentucky, said Mary Hudak, a spokeswoman for FEMA’s southeast region. The supplies are expected to arrive Friday.

Hundreds of shelters opened their doors, and deputies in some communities went door to door to let people know where they were. Since phone service and Internet connections are spotty in many places, there wasn’t another way. In Harrodsburg, Ky., where phone service was restored, residents were asked to call 911 if they needed transport to shelters, said John Trisler, the county’s judge executive.

In Caruthersville, Mo., near the Tennessee border, church leaders and other volunteers knocked on the doors of the elderly and handicapped residents to make sure they were all right. A generator was in use to distribute some water in town, but Fire Chief Charlie Jones had concerns about what would happen when the temporary measure ran out.

“We’re definitely worried about the community with no power, no water. Restaurants aren’t open and there are no (open) fueling stations,” he said.

In central Kentucky’s Radcliff, John and Elsie Grimes lost power Monday night and needed police help to get out of their trailer and to a shelter Thursday morning set up by the local NAACP.

“I’ve been sitting ’round for two days, eating cold hot dogs and bologna,” said 70-year-old John Grimes, who uses a wheelchair, is blind in one eye, and a diabetic.

Since the storm began Monday, the weather has been blamed for at least 26 deaths, including six in Texas, four in Arkansas, three in Virginia, six in Missouri, two in Oklahoma, two in Indiana, two in West Virginia and one in Ohio. Emergency officials feared that toll could rise if people stay in their homes without power for too long, because improper use of generators can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

Some decided to tough it out anyway. As icicles began to melt from the electrical wires and crashed to the ground Thursday, Jimmy Eason of Velvet Ridge, Ark., carefully walked across his yard to his Ford F-150, which was warmer than his one-story, white house.

“I’m sleeping in a car, which is just fine,” Eason, 74, said. “There’s nothing wrong with a car. Every couple of hours I turn it on, I let it run for 10 minutes and that keeps it pretty warm.”

Eason was trying to avoid boredom, and drove to Burger King to get a meal because he was tired of eating cold soup. “It’s kind of a chore to occupy your mind. I’m used to doing things and keeping busy. You just have to endure a couple of days and it will be all right,” he said.

____

Contributing to this report were Associated Press Writers Dylan T. Lovan, Brett Barrouquere and Bruce Schreiner in Louisville, Ky.; Daniel Shea in Velvet Ridge, Ark.; John Raby in Charleston, W.Va.; and Betsy Taylor in St. Louis, Mo.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Date: 10/4/2008 1:58 PM

By MONICA RHOR
Associated Press Writer

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) _ The final hours brought the awful realization to victims of Hurricane Ike that they had waited too long. This storm wasn’t like the others, the ones that left nothing worse than a harrowing tale to tell.

George Helmond, a hardy Galveston salt, watched the water rise and told a buddy: I was born on this island and I’ll die on this island.

Gail Ettenger, a free spirit who adopted the Bolivar Peninsula as her home 15 years ago, told a friend in a last phone call: I really messed up this time.

Within hours, the old salt and the free spirit were gone as the powerful Category 2 hurricane wracked the Texas Gulf Coast on Sept. 13, flattening houses, obliterating entire towns and claiming at least 33 lives.

The dead — as young as 4, as old as 79 — included lifelong Galvestonians firmly rooted on the island and transplants drawn by the quiet of coastal living.

Seven people drowned in a storm surge that moved in earlier and with more ferocity than expected. Nine others died in the grimy, sweaty aftermath, when lack of power and medicine exacted its toll. Eleven people were poisoned by carbon monoxide or killed in fires from the generators they used in their own attempts to survive.

Hundreds of people remain missing three weeks after Ike’s assault on Texas. Local and city officials are no longer keeping their own count of missing residents, and the estimate varies wildly from one agency to another.

According to the nonprofit Laura Recovery Center, about 300 people are missing. Of those, about 200 from Galveston. However, the number “goes up and down by the minute” as people call in to remove or add names, cautioned executive director Bob Walcutt.

Some vanished during the evacuation of towns in the storm’s path. Many were last heard in desperate, last-ditch calls for help.

Immediately after the hurricane, Galveston officials conducted door-to-door searches for survivors and possible victims. But the city is no longer taking an active role in the search, city spokeswoman Alicia Cahill said.

Instead, search teams of sheriff’s deputies, volunteer firefighters and special K-9 search and recovery units have been using airboats and all-terrain vehicles to sift through debris fields, tangled and fetid marshlands, and the rubble left behind by Ike.

Bodies could have been tossed anywhere in the marshes, where thickets of trees are littered with the contents of houses. Refrigerators, office chairs, and television sets are scattered everywhere __ in the mud, in bushes, on treetops.

“We are definitely looking and are going to do anything we can to find them, but there may not be any answers to be given,” said Galveston County emergency management spokesman Colin Rizzo. “There are definitely going to be people from Hurricane Ike that are never found.”

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

BREWER, Maine (AP) — Carbon monoxide poisoning left two tenants unconscious and sickened many more in a 31-unit apartment complex, fire officials said. Officials believe a separated vent pipe from a new water heater allowed the colorless, odorless gas to seep into the building. Many of the victims were treated in a hyperbaric chamber.

Since it is important for RV users to know how they can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning we have found a useful list of recommendations to ensure RV travelers are safer.

This information came from Carbon Monoxide Kills, a site that started the Carbon Monoxide Kills Awareness Campaign in 1999. They are strong advocates for carbon monoxide poisoning prevention. Their website can be viewed at: www.carbonmonoxidekills.com

These are the fourteen steps that can be taken to prevent carbon monoxide from being exposed inside RV’s.

  • 1. USE A CARBON MONOXIDE WARNING DETECTOR. 
  • 2 – 4. Relate to inspecting the exhaust systems, the weather seals on the RV to make sure that exhaust isn’t getting inside the vehicle. 
  • 5. Yellow flames in propane-burning appliances may indicate a lack of oxygen. Diagnose and correct this problem.
  • 6. Check vacuum cleaner exhaust.
  • 7 – 12 Relate to the operation of an electrical generator. Look over the specifics of this carefully, but always remember, a generator has an engine, that can produce CO fumes and those can kill.
  • 13. “If you do not feel well, do not be fooled into thinking that it is because you have been driving too long, you ate too much, or you are suffering from motion sickness. Shut off the generator and step outside for some fresh air just to be sure.”
  • 14. Park in the “No Generator” zones that the Family Motor Coach Association recommends. http://FMCA.com 

It is very important to do everything possible to make sure you are not exposed to carbon monoxide’s deadly fumes. It is also important to know the signs of exposure. Tomorrow we will review the symptoms and signs that a person has when exposed to carbon monoxide. To read ahead, http://codamage.com

Five days ago officials from the NASCAR race warned fans who were traveling with a recreational vehicle (RV) about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. A local health department in Indiana was also at Indianapolis Motor Speedway handing out information on carbon monoxide poisoning.

This warning to fans came in response to the tragic death of a 43-year-old man Michael Thies of Ruma, IL who suffered from carbon monoxide exposure and whose three family members were hospitalized from carbon monoxide fumes. The carbon monoxide is believed to have entered their RV from the exhaust of other nearby RVs.

For further information on the story: http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id;=6284464

Since summer has arrived more people are using their RVs to go to concerts, camp sites and sporting events. RVs are popular for traveling because they have beds, kitchens, refrigerators and small bathrooms. With these pleasures comes the responsibility of knowing the potential risk of carbon monoxide exposure.

Traditionally, winter is when carbon monoxide problems are most prevalent, however, this spring and summer have been particularly bad for such seasons.

It is important to know that there are several steps that RV users should take to ensure their safety. In our next blog, we will discuss the steps that RV users should consider to ensure that they are preventing carbon monoxide exposure.

Once again, a portable engine in a poorly ventilated place has caused carbon monoxide poisoning and death. This time, it was inside a gold mine in O’Neals, CA. See http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?section=news/local&id;=6154061

According to ABC, “the bodies of brothers David and Matthew Alison from Prather and their cousin, Brannon Scharf of Madera, were discovered in an abandoned gold mine. The three had been pumping water out of a mine while searching for gold when they were overcome by carbon monoxide” from what has now been identified as water pump.

This time of year, we expected portable generators to start taking their CO toll, but expected to be because of power outages. But instead, our last two stories have been related to using a portable engine (like a pump or carpet cleaning machine) in enclosed areas like a mine or a garage.

If you are using a portable engine, it is imperative that you do so in a well ventilated area. Further, some type of CO detector must be used.