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USA: Fallout from icy blast continues

If you live in the USA and you have electricity, consider yourself lucky.

Thousands of people in the Northern United States and southeastern Canada have endured at least four days without power because of ice-related outages. And for some, the heat might not come back on until this weekend, utility companies said.

More than 127,000 customers were without power in below-freezing temperatures Friday in parts of Michigan and northern New England and the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.

The winter weather has also turned deadly. At least 24 people have died in weather-related incidents since Saturday.

Nineteen of those deaths were in the United States; the majority died of carbon monoxide poisoning, emergency management officials said. Carbon monoxide poisoning often occurs when people run generators inside their homes.

Another five people died in Canada from carbon monoxide poisoning, including three in Quebec and two in Toronto, officials said.

The frigid weather will spread across the United States this weekend, with temperatures expected to fall 10 to 15 degrees below normal in the Midwest on Saturday. On Sunday, the chill will move into the Plains. Snow may hit New England on Sunday or Monday.

In areas near Toronto, where officials said the storm was one of the worst to hit the city, more than 32,000 were without power Friday. While that’s down from 300,000 at the peak, utility officials there declined to estimate when the last outages would be fixed. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said his biggest concern now is the possibility of high winds in the evening.

“It’s taking long because we haven’t seen a storm like this in our history,” Toronto Hydro spokeswoman Tanya Bruckmueller told CBC News. “The amount of damage to both our equipment due to the trees coming down is slowing us down, as well as this morning we’ve got snow coming, which is much heavier on the branches and is now covering a lot of what we need to be repairing.”

Toronto resident Vic Baniuk told CBC on Thursday his family hasn’t had power for five days, and they were using a fireplace and a cast-iron stove to stay warm.

“We’re sitting in the dark and cold, and I feel that everybody has ignored us,” he told CBC.

A tree branch pierced his roof, making a bad situation worse.

“This is not an inconvenience. This is an emergency, a disaster,” Baniuk said.

The temperature in Toronto isn’t expected to rise above freezing until Saturday, with a forecast high of 3 degrees Celsius (about 37 degrees Fahrenheit).

Another 5,800 people were without power Thursday elsewhere in southern Ontario; 19,000 had no electricity in New Brunswick, and another 2,200 still had outages in Quebec province, utility companies said.



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