Deadly Ice Storm Glazes Midsection Of U.S.
A sign advertises a tsunami evacuation drill Thursday, May 31, 2012 in Charleston, Ore. Thousands of people were expected to take part in the drill, the first for the coastal town. Authorities say last year's tsunami in Japan has raised awareness among people. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard) / Jeff Barnard
At least 23 deaths had been blamed on the storm system since the waves of sleet and freezing rain started during the weekend. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses had no electricity.
The ice storm is marching north, leaving behind states of emergency in Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma, where more than 500,000 homes and businesses lost power -- the largest outage in state history, reports CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes.
President Bush declared an emergency in Oklahoma on Tuesday, ordering federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts.
Food and drinking water are on the way to Oklahoma, says the Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with blankets, cots and generators, adds Cordes.
Iowa's largest school district closed for the day in Des Moines, telling its nearly 31,000 students to stay home, and kids across most of Oklahoma and in the Kansas City, Mo., area stayed home for a second day.
Schools also were closed in parts of Wisconsin, including Milwaukee Public Schools with 85,000 students. "We thought about our kids on foot," said Milwaukee schools spokeswoman Roseann St. Aubin. Some drivers couldn't even get to their buses, she said.
About an inch of ice was expected Tuesday over parts of Iowa, followed by up to 5 inches of sleet and snow. "It's a pretty good ice-maker," said Frank Boksa, a National Weather Service forecaster.
Ice as much as an inch thick had accumulated on trees, power lines, streets and car windshields Monday in parts of Oklahoma and Missouri, with thinner layers elsewhere.
Utilities in Missouri reported more than 100,000 homes and business without power and Kansas utilities said probably more than 70,000 were blacked out Tuesday, with some in the dark since Sunday.
Public Service of Oklahoma spokesman Stan Whiteford told CBS News it's going to take a long time to restore everyone's electricity because the tree and power line damage is so severe and widespread. So, what are families left in the cold to do?
"We're encouraging people to go to a shelter rather than to do something risky in their home and try to stay there, especially if they have health problems," Whiteford said. "But a lot of people are just hunkering down and using their fireplaces to keep warm.
Iowa's two major utilities reported over 17,000 customers without power Tuesday.
The storm even put a crimp on presidential campaigning, with Republican Mike Huckabee canceling stops in western Iowa and former President Bill Clinton calling off appearances in eastern Iowa on behalf of his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Des Moines International Airport closed because of ice late Monday and could be closed most of Tuesday, said spokesman Roy Criss. The airport, which also was shut down by winter weather two weeks ago, has 138 arrivals and departures per day, he said.
"This rain keeps refreezing. We put chemicals down, it melts and then freezes again. We can't stay ahead of it," Criss said. "This is not fun."
Many travelers also were grounded at Chicago, where about 250 flights were canceled Tuesday morning at O'Hare International Airport and departure delays averaging 15 to 30 minutes, said Karen Pride of the city's Department of Aviation.
Weather Channel meteorologist Mike Seidel said on CBS News' The Early Show Tuesday he expects hundreds of more flights to be canceled as the ice storm spreads to the Chicago area.
However, the storm "is not heading to the East Coast and you do not have to worry about it in Philadelphia, D.C., and Baltimore," Seidel said.
Kansas City International Airport in Missouri canceled more than 90 flights Tuesday morning, but spokesman Joe McBride said that was probably due to problems at other airports.
Southeastern Nebraska also had power outages Tuesday and some flights in and out of Omaha's Eppley Airfield were canceled.
FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers sent 50 generators and three truckloads of bottled water from Texas to distribute to blacked-out areas of Oklahoma.
At least 22 deaths - most of them in traffic accidents - had been blamed on the ice and cold since the weekend, including 15 in Oklahoma, four in Kansas, and three in Missouri.
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