Brutal Winter Storms Blamed For 25 Deaths In Midwest

By Jeremy Hubbard, ABC News | 

Bitter cold and brittle ice still have a tight grip on much of the Midwest.

The brutal storm system is now blamed for at least 25 deaths since the weekend, sixteen in Oklahoma alone.

Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma are under states of emergency, with power outages widespread and expected to last for days.

89-year-old Alline Zimmerman is one of hundreds of thousands of people in the frozen Midwest, still without electricity.

"I'd give about $25 right now for a cup of hot coffee," said Alline Zimmerman, who has no electricity at this time.

But utility crews in hard-hit Oklahoma say they're slowly making progress.

Just under a half million homes and businesses were in the dark statewide as of Dec. 12.

That's down from more than 600,000 on Dec. 11.

Others, still without electricity, could be stuck in emergency shelters for another seven to ten days.

"It was quiet a decision. We were then we weren't. Then we heard it was going to get really we thought we better come," said Wanda Evans, who is staying at the shelter.

Emergency managers hope to get generators to businesses and homes, as soon as possible.

"Of course, electrical outage leads to all kinds of things: loss of water, because you don't have electricity to pump the water; gas stations go down because you don't have pumps to pump the gasoline," said Albert Ashwood, of the Oklahoma Dept. Emergency Mgmt.

Fire is another danger. Three people were killed in a blaze in Oklahoma City overnight Dec.11.

The home had no power, and investigators are trying to determine if it was caused by someone trying to stay warm.

At least one person in Oklahoma City died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a generator.

Across the Midwest--from Kansas to Illinois-- the clean-up is underway.

Entire trees have toppled, weighed down by thick ice, and tree branches continue to snap and fall.

Across the Midwest, in places like Chicago, it's warmer Dec. 12, but another batch of bad weather is moving in. And hard-hit Oklahoma could get several inches of snow by the weekend.

At least 25 deaths, mostly from traffic accidents, are being blamed on the storm system since it developed last weekend.

Elsewhere, forecasters say more snow, sleet and freezing rain could develop today across the Northern Ohio Valley and into New England.

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