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Easley Declares State Of Emergency

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Governor Mike Easley and his staff spent a lot of time Thursday monitoring the state's icy conditions. As daylight fell, Easley decided to issue a State of Emergency.

The purpose of his decision, he said, was to make the clean-up effort go easier.

"We are getting the necessary vehicles on the road to help with recovery efforts," Easley said. "N.C. DOT is working to clear the roads. They are concentrating on Interstates first, followed by major secondary roads."

The State of Emergency waives the weight and size restrictions on trucks. That makes it easier for the power-company trucks and debris-removal vehicles to come into the state without paying any additonal fees.

"Although the majority of the precipitation is ended, road conditions across the state are still hazardous due to fallen trees and downed power lines and large areas of water that could cause hydroplaning," Easley said. "I'm urging every citizen to please stay off the roadways until conditions improve."

As for whether or not state officials will seek help from the federal government, Emergency Management officials said they will assess the damage over the next several days to determine if the amount of damage warrants federal assistance.

"We still have trees and power lines falling on roadways," Easley said. "The best course of action is to stay inside and off the roads. Traffic signals are not operating at many intersections, and downed trees and power lines are making travel hazardous."

Power outages across the state left more than one million customers without electricity. Carolina Power and Light reported that it has 900 personnel, tree and line crews working across the state to restore power, and they have another 230 trucks en route to provide assistance.

Duke Power Company was coordinating assistance with 18 utilities from eight different states to restore power to their customers. Estimations on when power will be restored ranged from hours in some areas to days in others.

The State Highway Patrol reportedly responded to 800 accidents in the past 24 hours, and four traffic fatalities were reported statewide.

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