2 Million Lack Power As Ike Rescues, Cleanups Begin

Hurricane Ike caused major damage in Houston, Galveston, and surrounding coastal areas of Texas and Louisiana on Saturday, with at least 2 million residents of the area and much of the nation’s fourth-largest city still without electrical power on Sunday. Search and rescue crews began checking homes in several areas, including Galveston, to find residents who may still be stranded by high water. Utilities serving the Houston area indicated it could take as much as four weeks to restore every customer's power, but Houston and Harris County officials called for every effort to bring electric service back as fast as possible. Galveston's mayor today said three fatalities have been confirmed on the island and all power is out there and will not be restored for about a week, the Houston Chronicle reports. The first location to have electric power restored will be the University of Texas Medical Branch. About 2,000 people in Galveston have requested evacuation, the newspaper reports.

President Bush issued an order Saturday allowing federal disaster assistance to cover 100 percent of the cost of debris removal in certain Texas counties for a 72-hour period. 

CDC posted an advisory on safety for people who have no electric service, reminding that generators, grills, camp stoves, and other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices "should never be used inside a home, basement, garage, or camper -- or even outside near an open window." Carbon monoxide-related deaths following a severe storm and power outages are all too common, authorities say. Texas authorities are asking hundreds of thousands of coastal residents who evacuated to other parts of the state not to return home for several days.

CDC says every home should have at least one working CO detector with it batteries being checked twice annually -- at the same times smoke detectors' batteries are checked. More than 500 people die per year in the United States from CO poisoning, according to CDC. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion, but people who are asleep or have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before having symptoms, the agency noted. For more information, check www.cdc.gov/co/guidelines.htm.

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