Thursday, January 06, 2000

Patton seeks aid for Owensboro

The Associated Press

        OWENSBORO, Ky. — Gov. Paul Patton on Wednesday asked federal officials to declare the storm-ravaged Owensboro area, hit by a tornado earlier this week, a disaster area.

        Mr. Patton also declared a state of emergency for the area and authorized state officials to respond to assistance requests from local governments.

        Much of western Kentucky was raked by a powerful storm Monday night. Owensboro was hit hardest. A tornado tore a half-mile-wide swath through the heart of the city.

        “We want to do all we can to help those in need in the storm-damaged areas of western Kentucky,” Mr. Patton said in a statement Wednesday.

        Thousands remained without power as temperatures dropped into the 30s. State emergency officials said shelters would be needed for days.

        “This is not something that is going to be over in a week,” said Ann Dean, volunteer coordinator for the American Red Cross.

        About 110 people are being housed at The Sports Center in Owensboro, a basketball arena converted to a temporary shelter. They are there because their homes were destroyed or because they are without heat and electricity, Ms. Dean said.

        “The shelter will be open as long as someone has a need,” she said.

        Ms. Dean said volunteers are being hindered by downed power lines.

        Utility crews are working 18-hour shifts to restore electricity to about 1,800 homes in the area.


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