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Carolinians still shivering in ice storm aftermath

Health officials warn of carbon monoxide danger

Mike Reese places a sign to his power company on Highway 401 near Wake Forest, North Carolina, on Saturday in the hopes that his power will be restored sooner.

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Gov. Michael Easley gets a first-hand look at the damage from a recent ice storm in North Carolina (December 8)
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RALEIGH, North Carolina (CNN) -- Frigid morning temperatures Sunday did little to ease the burden on thousands of crews working around the clock to restore electricity to more than 800,000 customers still without power after last week's ice storm.

The cold continued to pose a danger to customers trying to stay warm without electric heat.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is the latest risk, according to North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety spokeswoman Patty McQuillan.

"We've had about 200 people seek medical help with carbon monoxide poisoning from putting charcoal grills inside their house either to eat or to get warm from the charcoals," she said. "Also, people are using generators inside."

McQuillan said at least two people had died of carbon monoxide poisoning, one an elderly man in Cleveland County, west of Charlotte, who turned on a generator outside but left the door open. His wife survived because she was taking oxygen for medical reasons.

One of nearly 7,500 utility workers from out of state died in an accident involving a utility truck near Gastonia early Sunday, Duke Power said.

start quoteDuke Power expresses its condolences to the family of the utility worker killed this morning.end quote
-- Bill Coley, president of the utility

"Duke Power expresses its condolences to the family of the utility worker killed this morning," said Bill Coley, president of the utility. "We are deeply saddened by news of the accident. The support we have received from other utilities has been outstanding, and we deeply appreciate their extraordinary assistance."

North Carolina Gov. Michael Easley toured some of the affected area Saturday and dispatched National Guard troops to 21 counties, where they are offering assistance door to door.

McQuillan said troops found two elderly people in Durham on Saturday who had not eaten in three days, but added that the two were "OK now."

Nearly 2 million electric customers lost power during the storm in the Carolinas on December 4-5. By Sunday morning, at least 802,000 remained in the dark.

Charlotte was the hardest-hit area, with more than 172,000 customers still without power Sunday morning.

Charter Communications installation technician Jermaine Phillips sets up a television on the hood of his truck early Saturday in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Carolina Power & Light said it expected to have all power restored by Tuesday, and Duke Power, whose customers took the brunt of the ice storm's chill, said it expected to have 90 percent of the outages restored by Wednesday.

At least 15,000 utility employees were working to restore power.

"It is taking heroic effort to recover from this natural disaster," said E.O. Ferrell, senior vice president of electric distribution for Duke Power. "Our crews are providing that effort, and we are grateful."

The ice storm was part of a wintry weather system that swept from New Mexico across the South and up the East Coast, bringing down trees and power lines.

At least 25 people in 11 states were killed in the storm, primarily in traffic accidents.

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