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Nixon seeks major disaster declaration

Saturday, February 7, 2009

ST. LOUIS -- Gov. Jay Nixon has asked President Obama to declare 22 Missouri counties major disaster areas, a move aimed at speeding recovery for regions hit hard by last week's ice storm.

Nixon announced the request Friday during a meeting with county commissioners in Jefferson City, Mo. The request also seeks a waiver of some or all of the 25 percent match that state and local governments normally have to pay for disaster funding.

Damage in Missouri from the storm on Jan. 26 and 27 is estimated at $193 million. Eight deaths in the state have been blamed on the storm. Six died in accidents on slippery roads. A New Madrid County woman and her teenage daughter died of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning from a gas-powered generator in the garage.

Six shelters were housing 136 people, state officials said.

The storm dumped more than an inch of ice on parts of southern Missouri, snapping trees and downing power lines and substations. At one point, more than 100,000 homes and businesses were without power.

By Friday afternoon, the outage number was down to 13,325, but some still faced up to two weeks before power was restored. Missouri State Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Susie Stonner cited more than 7,000 outages in Pemiscot and Dunklin counties, 3,700 around Sikeston, 2,500 at Poplar Bluff and 125 in Howell and Oregon counties.

According to the Standard Democrat, power has been restored to about 70 percent of Sikeston.

SEMO Electric Cooperative communications director Glen Cantrell said that figure should go to 90 percent by the end of business Wednesday, and all customers will have power restored by the following Wednesday.

Around Southeast Missouri more than 1,000 linemen are repairing the lines.

"We still have thousands and thousands and thousands of poles on the ground," Nixon said. "We still face significant challenges.

"We're committed to doing everything we can to get these communities to recover," the governor said.

Three multi-agency resource centers were established in Southeast Missouri to offer storm-affected residents with a one-stop location for resources and referrals. The centers will be operated by the Salvation Army Feb. 10 through 12 at the Clinton Building in Sikeston, VFW Post 5443 in Kennett and Black River Coliseum in Poplar Bluff.

Nixon's request seeks a major disaster declaration for the following counties: Barry, Bollinger, Butler, Cape Girardeau, Carter, Douglas, Dunklin, Howell, Madison, Mississippi, New Madrid, Oregon, Ozark, Pemiscot, Reynolds, Ripley, Scott, Shannon, Stoddard, Stone, Taney and Wayne.

Damage assessments will begin next week to support a disaster declaration for individuals and businesses affected by the storm and power outages, Nixon's office said.

On the Net

* State Emergency Management Agency: sema.dps.mo.gov/

* Missouri Electric Cooperatives: www.amec.org/ IceStormInfoCenter.html

* AmerenUE: www.ameren.com/Outage/ADC_MissouriOutage...


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