IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Midwest also sees long lines for Ike relief

Facing a third straight day without power, residents across the Midwest snapped up batteries, generators and coolers as they waited for crews to restore electricity knocked out by Ike.
Image: The front of the old Peru Illinois Electric Department building is flooded
This power company building in Peru, Ill., was flooded Tuesday as the Illinois River burst its banks due to remnants from Ike.Kemp Smith / La Salle News Tribune via AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Facing a third straight day without power, residents across the Midwest snapped up batteries, generators and coolers as they waited for crews to restore electricity knocked out by the remnants of Hurricane Ike.

In other parts of the Midwest, residents warily eyed rising rivers while other waterlogged communities began cleaning up the wet, stinky mess left behind by floodwaters. Flood warnings remained in effect Wednesday across the region.

As much as 10 inches of rain fell in Indiana, Illinois and Missouri after Ike hit Texas over the weekend. Hurricane-force wind blew in Ohio and Kentucky and a tornado in Arkansas damaged several buildings.

About 900,000 homes and businesses in Ohio alone remained without electricity Wednesday, and long lines at supermarkets, hardware stores and gas stations were common.

Home Depot stores were short on generators, tarps, gas cans and other emergency supplies because some stock had been sent south to help with hurricane relief in Texas and Louisiana, said Jen King, a spokeswoman for Home Depot Inc.

"I'm pretty well getting empty," said Fred Beckert, who owns Beckert Chain Saw Supply in Zanesville, Ohio, and was having trouble keeping up with the demand for chain saws and generators. He was expecting more shipments later in the week but said the generators coming in already had buyers.

Lining up for ice
Elsewhere, truckloads of batteries, ice and coolers were selling as soon as they hit the shelves. Grocers and residents alike tried to preserve perishable food.

Lines of people waited for bagged ice at a Bigg's supermarket in Mason, Ohio, and Cincinnati-based Home City Ice Co. was operating 24 hours a day to help meet the heavy demand.

"We've brought in about 160 semi loads of ice from our facilities in neighboring states, and even our managers and computer and accounting people have been bagging and delivering ice," said Jay Stautberg, Home City Ice's chief financial officer.

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland toured wind-damaged sections of Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus on Tuesday, a day after declaring a state of emergency.

The governors of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Pennsylvania have also declared states of emergency. The storms brought Ike's death toll to at least 50 in 11 states from the Gulf Coast to the upper Ohio Valley, with new reports continuing to surface.

A 20-month-old boy apparently drowned in a stormwater-filled ditch near Auburn, Mich., about 100 miles north of Detroit. Firefighters tried to resuscitate the boy but he was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The deluge of rain left road crews in northern Indiana working for a third straight day to pump water from swamped lanes of interstates 80/94 and 65.

Other parts of the state were dealing with power outages caused by Ike's high winds. As of Tuesday, more than 100,000 Indiana homes and businesses remained without power, but phone service had been restored.

In Ohio, the state's utilities said they were trying to restore power in the shortest amount of time by prioritizing repairs for circuits that serve the largest numbers of people.

"It's just a matter of which way the wires go and how they were laid out," said Chris Eck, a spokesman for FirstEnergy Corp. in Ohio.

Across Kentucky, power outages still affected nearly 300,000 customers, the state said, down from as many as 600,000 customers at the peak — the state's biggest power outage on record. Louisville Gas & Electric predicted full power restoration in 10 to 14 days, with about 160,000 customers doing without power there early Wednesday.

Downed lines also knocked out power in western Pennsylvania, where about 64,000 customers remained in the dark early Wednesday. Utilities said they hoped to restore service to a majority of customers by Friday. Butler County, north of Pittsburgh, was under a state of emergency.

Across Illinois, officials said electricity had been restored to nearly all of the 49,000 left without power in the wake of the storm. Much of the Chicago area also was returning to normal Tuesday, as floodwaters began to recede. Ike had overwhelmed drainage and sewer systems in northern Illinois.

Elsewhere, some Illinois residents were waiting to return home. In Morris, about 100 people still couldn't reach homes in low-lying areas along the Illinois River, which hit a record when it topped 24 feet, or 8 feet above flood stage, Assistant Fire Chief Robert Wills said Tuesday.

In suburban Des Plaines, Ill., where more than 1,000 people were displaced by flooding, the Des Plaines River was expected to fall below flood stage Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.

"The recovery process is under way," said Will Soderberg, a city spokesman. "And that should take the rest of the week."