Winter storms blast the United States

Southern US states scrambled to recover Thursday after taking a battering from a series of ice storms, while the US East Coast and Midwest braced for vicious impending winter storms, federal officials said. The National Weather Service said wintry conditions were set to continue in the south, with more snow likely to hit the region over the weekend. US President Bill Clinton on Thursday declared a state of emergency in his home state of Arkansas, and in Oklahoma, and ordered federal aid to help the two states dig out from under severe winter storms. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), meanwhile, said the storm currently clobbering the Midwestern Great Lakes region was expected to move eastward into Friday. Snowfall is anticipated into the new year along the East Coast, from Maryland to Maine, FEMA said, becoming particularly severe in Rhode Island, southern Massachusetts and Long Island, New York. Earlier Thursday, Weather-related road accidents and the cold have been blamed for at least 18 deaths since the storm began Monday. In Arkansas, 300,000 households were without power, the American Red Cross said, and many people were without telephone service or water. FEMA said 25 shelters were temporarily housing 480 people there. National Guard troops delivered water, electricity generators and food supplies to rural residents. In Oklahoma, some 170,000 people were without power and some 171 people are staying in 18 emergency shelters, FEMA said. And in Texas, about 231,000 people were still without power and 20 shelters were accommodating some 240 people, the agency said, despite a let-up in the cold spell, France Press reports.

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