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Severe Storms Keep St. Louis Dark

Another day of severe storms knocked out electricity for tens of thousands of additional residents, but brought along a cold front that was welcome relief for those waiting for power to be restored.

A strong thunderstorm rolled through the region Friday, two days after one of the worst storms in recent memory caused more than 500,000 Ameren Corp. customers to lose power.

Utility crews had trimmed that number significantly by Saturday morning, but the total rose again after the storms, adding another twist to a week that has seen at least 29 heat-related deaths across the United States.

About 130,000 had been restored over the previous 24 hours 440,000 homes and businesses in the St. Louis area were still without electricity Saturday morning,. Ameren spokeswoman Susan Gallagher said it still could be early next week before all outages are resolved.

"We live in a place that don't have any lights, electricity, anything, and we're trying to keep cool," St. Louis resident Yvonne Smith told CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella as she loaded bags of ice into the trunk of her car.

"Everybody is miserable," said St. Louis resident Kim Cox. "We've got a couple of fans but hopefully it'll be over soon."

President George W. Bush on Friday approved Missouri's request for an expedited disaster declaration, which mobilizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency and provides federal funding for debris removal and other emergency needs.

A third American Red Cross shelter opened Friday, a day after more than 500 people spent the night in the others. Fifty-two cooling centers were set up in the area to take in those who could not stay in their hot homes.

Missouri National Guard troops spent their second day here Friday after Gov. Matt Blunt declared the city a state of emergency. Guardsmen assisted in seeking out those needing help in hot homes without power, especially the elderly, and with debris removal.

As the weather improved, there was hope the outages were becoming more of an inconvenience than a health threat.

Friday's high fell short of 90 degrees, and forecasts called for highs into the 80s through Monday.

The problems, however, were far from over. Tree limbs, road signs and downed power lines could be seen throughout the region.

Many businesses were feeling the impact of the outages. Boeing Co.'s St. Louis defense business had to shut down after the power went out Friday, sending 4,000 workers home early.

Four St. Louis-area deaths were blamed on the weather. On Friday, Jefferson County authorities blamed Thursday's heat for the death of a 93-year-old man whose home had no power. A 42-year-old dump truck driver died when winds blew a steel box onto him, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

In southwest Missouri, a 76-year-old woman who went looking for her dog apparently succumbed to 103-degree heat and was found dead on a porch about a mile from her home, police said Friday.

Tens of thousands of people also were without power in parts of southern Illinois that were pounded by storms for the second time in three days. Gov. Rod Blagojevich declared Madison and St. Clair counties state disaster areas.

In Oklahoma, the death toll rose to seven as the state medical examiner's office said heat caused the deaths of four elderly people on Thursday.

Heat-related deaths also have been reported this week in Illinois, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Indiana, South Dakota and Tennessee.

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