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Snow, ice, sleet make southern Plains miserable

Story Highlights

NEW: 90 Texas National Guard members mobilized
• More than 100,000 in Great Plains without power
• Weather blamed for 74 deaths, 25 in Oklahoma
• Oklahoma governor: "The worst may not be over"
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EL PASO, Texas (AP) -- A storm carrying the threat of more snow and ice moved across the Southern Plains on Friday as more than 100,000 homes and businesses remained in the dark from earlier blasts of cold, wet weather.

Winter storm warnings covered much of New Mexico and parts of Texas and Oklahoma, with a half-foot to more than a foot of snow and sleet expected.

In Texas, 90 National Guard members were activated. (Watch where the storm is headed Video)

At a plaza in El Paso, where large crowds usually gather near bus stops and restaurants, only a few people braved the biting wind.

"We prepared, getting all our winter clothes out, but it's difficult because the bus is late," said Alicia Lozano, 62, who wrapped a purple scarf around her head.

In tiny Oaks in northeastern Oklahoma, carpenter and rancher Garland Whorton has been without power for a week. He spent three days using a chain saw to cut a path through the ice to his barn so he could reach his horses and mules.

"When that snow hits, it's going to finish us off," said Whorton, 59.

The latest winter blast has led to reports of at least 74 deaths in nine states in the past week, including 25 in Oklahoma, 14 in Missouri and 12 in Texas.

Many of the deaths were caused by car wrecks or carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators. (Watch tips for driving on icy roads Video)

More than 77,000 Missouri homes and businesses remained without power, mainly in the state's southwestern section.

Eastern Oklahoma, including the hard-hit cities of McAlester and Muskogee, still had nearly 60,000 homes in the dark after ice snapped hundreds of power poles and transmission lines.

Gov. Brad Henry on Thursday requested a major federal disaster declaration, which would make people in hard-hit counties eligible for housing grants and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses. He had already declared a state of emergency.

"Unfortunately, the worst may not be over," Henry said.

About 1,000 people remained in shelters set up by the American Red Cross and at homeless shelters. Gloves and blankets were already in short supply after the first ice storm.

"We're packed to the gills," said the Rev. Steve Whitaker, executive director of the John 3:16 Mission in Tulsa. "This has been a tough ride for the homeless."

Mike Mackey, 47, who has been staying in an American Red Cross shelter in Muskogee with his wife and son, said the crushing weight of ice broke trees throughout his neighborhood.

"It looks like Godzilla came through there and just stomped them all down," he said. (Watch an I-Reporter's firsthand look at Oklahoma's harsh weather Video)

Along with the fatalities in Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri, the wave of storms was blamed for eight deaths in Iowa, four each in New York and Michigan, three in Arkansas, two in North Carolina and one each in Maine and Indiana.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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Dan Mitchell, left, and two friends clean up a fallen tree in Mitchell's yard Friday in McAlester, Oklahoma.

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