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Snow, wind, ice tied to 59 deaths

Texas to Maine, thousands without power

McALESTER, Okla. -- Thousands of people stuck it out in dark, unheated homes yesterday and hundreds of others hunkered down in shelters waiting for restoration of electrical service knocked out by the snow and ice storm blamed for 59 deaths in nine states.

Nearly 290,000 homes and businesses in several states were still without electricity yesterday because of the ice, snow, and high wind that battered an area from Maine to Texas, where roads and schools were closed yesterday.

At the First Baptist Church in McAlester, Okla., where most of the city's 18,000 residents have lacked power for four days, residents huddled under blankets and in front of space heaters.

"If it wasn't for the shelter, I don't know where we'd be," said Tara Guzman, 38, while playing board games with her four children. "We're tough; we lasted when the power went out until [Monday]. We brought mattresses out in the living room and cuddled."

Some 92,000 customers still had no electricity yesterday in Oklahoma. Little sunshine was expected to help melt the ice until today or tomorrow, said National Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Brown.

The wave of arctic air that trailed the storm system helped to kick off more freezing rain and snow yesterday in Texas, closing schools and some businesses and government offices.

Even the Alamo was closed to tourists in San Antonio because of cold and rain.

Houston and San Antonio were under rare ice warnings yesterday and icy roads in Dallas slowed morning highway commuters. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport canceled 100 flights. The Austin airport canceled 32 outbound flights and 28 inbound, and ran out of de-icing fluid, officials said.

Elsewhere, about 24,000 customers in Michigan were still blacked out early yesterday, along with an estimated 11,000 in New York State and 10,000 in New Hampshire.

Some New Hampshire customers might not get electricity until sometime today.

"With thick ice continuing to coat power lines, repairs are taking longer than normal. Ice-coated limbs and branches must be lifted off lines by manually banging ice off the trees," Martin Murray, spokesman for Public Service Co. of New Hampshire, said in a statement.

Since Friday, the storm system's waves of freezing rain, sleet, and snow have been blamed for at least 20 deaths in Oklahoma, nine in Missouri, eight in Iowa, four each in New York and Michigan, six in Texas, three in Arkansas and one each in Maine and Indiana.