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Millions In NC Still Without Power After Winter Storm Hits Triangle

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The first storm of the winter season is over, but the clean-up is expected to last a couple of days as power crews deal with downed power lines and tree-cluttered roads. Meanwhile, millions of North Carolina residents are still without power.

A number of schools are


Friday including Wake, Durham, Orange, Johnston and Chatham and Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools.

Cumberland County schools will be open except for Raleigh Road Elementary. That campus is closed because it has no power.

Moore County schools will open one hour late except for five schools -- Aberdeen Elementary, Aberdeen Primary, Cameron Elementary, Sandhills Farm Life Elementary and Southern Pines Elementary -- that are closed because of power outages.

At 5 a.m. Friday, Duke Power reported 107,000 Durham customers and 38,000 Chapel Hill customers were without power.

CP&L said 354,531 customers in its northern region remain without power; in Cary, 65,702; North Raleigh, 41,625; Garner, 39,506 and Fayetteville 1,071.

At last report, North Carolina's electric cooperative reported 129,032 outages statewide, down from a mid-morning peak of 185,000.

Thursday afternoon, Gov. Mike Easley declared a state of emergency and waived most weight limits for trucks removing debris and repairing utility lines.

"This storm was obviously devastating in terms of the power outages, probably the largest single-event power outage we've had in this state," said Bryan Beaty, secretary of the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. "... Over the next few days, it will be very inconvenient and potentially dangerous to those who don't have power, or perhaps don't have any other source of heat. So we hope people get to shelters, or get to friends who are able to give them some shelter and heat."

Prior to the governor's announcement, Durham Mayor Bill Bell issued a proclamation declaring a State of Emergency in the city of Durham. The declaration includes a curfew that will be in effect from 5 p.m. until 6 a.m. during the emergency. No alcohol beverages will be allowed to be sold.

The power outages are also causing problems of a different nature for many Triangle residents. Duke Hospital has reported several cases of carbon monoxide poisoning due to residents trying to heat their homes using a gas grill. One patient is listed in serious condition.

A spokesman for Carolina Power & Light, which provides electricity to most of the state's eastern half, said it may be Sunday before some customers in Raleigh and north near the Virginia border have power restored.

"We expect to be restoring power through this weekend," CP&L spokesman Keith Poston said. "This is a major, major winter storm."

Emergency shelters opened in several counties for those without power.

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for a list of locations and directions.

BellSouth said about 6,000 of its Triangle customers were without service. The company said it is putting 140 back-up generators in place to restore phone service until electricity providers have service restored.

People should always stay away from downed power lines. All downed power lines should be treated as if they were energized and potentially deadly. Anyone who sees a downed line should stay away from it and call their electric utility or 911.

Up to an inch of ice had accumulated on trees and power lines in some places overnight, and the lines and limbs snapped under the weight.

Icy conditions overnight had the few drivers on the roads Thursday morning dodging downed limbs. In Raleigh, commuters were moving downed trees and branches themselves to try to get to work. With a refreeze expected overnight, that will likely be the case again Friday.

The state Department of Transportation reported that it had about 5,500 workers clearing highways across the state, and was using 45,000 tons of salt and sand, 2,000 dump trucks, 550 graders and 200 front-end loaders.

City of Raleigh crews have been working throughout the night salting streets, bridges and overpasses.

Raleigh Police urge motorists to use caution if travel is necessary. Many stoplights are not operating due to power outages. Icy conditions exist on most streets throughout the city.

Gov. Mike Easley urged residents of the Piedmont and western mountains not to leave their homes Thursday morning.

"The best thing for people to do is stay inside, off the roads and out of harm's way," Easley said in a release Wednesday night. "I encourage everyone to put safety first."

State officials reported Thursday that three people have been killed in traffic accidents that resulted from the winter storm that struck the state Wednesday.

Slippery roads were blamed in at least one traffic death in Rowan County. Martha Parker, 61, of Kannapolis, was killed when her car skidded off the road and overturned into a creek, said Trooper Gordon Danylchuk of the state Highway Patrol.

The Highway Patrol responded to hundreds of accidents, the majority of which were minor.

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