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National Briefing / Kentucky

Troops help free storm victims

February 02, 2009|TIMES WIRE REPORTS

Thousands of National Guard troops with chain saws cut their way into remote communities to reach residents stranded by a deadly ice storm, freeing some to get out of their driveways for the first time in nearly a week.

The troops went door to door handing out chili and beef stew rations to people cooped up in their powerless homes as authorities stepped up the relief effort for what Gov. Steve Beshear called the state's biggest natural disaster ever.

Kentucky was hit hardest by the storm, which paralyzed wide areas from the Ozarks through Appalachia last week. Officials blamed or suspected the storm for 40 deaths in nine states, most from hypothermia, traffic accidents or carbon monoxide poisoning from improperly installed generators or charcoal grills used indoors.

At its height, the storm knocked out power to 1.3 million customers from the Southern Plains to the East Coast, more than 700,000 of them in Kentucky.

By Sunday, the figure had dropped to nearly half that across Kentucky, with scattered outages in other states.

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