By SUSAN KIM
NEWPORT, Ky., Oct. 10, 2000 (Disaster News Network) — Some 2,200 people in the northern Kentucky town of Newport are trying to weather a record cold snap with no heat or water. A water main burst on Thursday, in turn rupturing a gas line then filling city gas lines with water.
Not only are some residents still waiting for heat and water; they also face damages to appliances — water heaters, stoves, clothes dryers, furnaces — that have gas lines that took in water.
Crews from the gas utility company Cinergy were still working 16-hour days on Tuesday to repair lines. Some customers won't get heat until Wednesday night. Temperatures dropped to 33 degrees on Monday night.
The American Red Cross opened a shelter but few people stayed, said Ray Bowman, spokesperson for the Kentucky Office of Disaster and Emergency Services.
"The biggest worry of the whole thing is the elderly and individuals incapacitated by illness or for other reasons," he said.
A thrift store and commodity distribution center affiliated with the Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church — itself with no heat — had many more clients than usual, said volunteer Sister Walter Ann.
The Trinity Baptist Church had no heat or water but was planning to hold its Wednesday service anyway. "We're not only hoping, we're praying," said the Rev. Rich Livingood.
Homeowners with damaged appliances are being told their insurance may cover the damage. But some residents are arguing they shouldn't be responsible for the costs. Since the problem began with the city's water line, Cinergy said it's not responsible, either. The city of Newport reported that the damage claims will likely end up in a court decision that could take years.
A record cold snap covered much of the eastern half of the U.S. over the weekend. Even Alabama and Georgia reported temperatures in the upper 20s. Record cold also descended over Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, the Carolinas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. Records were tied in New York, Arkansas, New Jersey, and Virginia.
West Texas — still reeling from a severe drought — was hit with an ice storm over the weekend. Tree branches snapped off, downing power lines and knocking out power to some 4,500 customers.
Forecasters said they haven't seen temperatures this low at this time of year since the early 1900s. Temperatures were expected to return to normal by midweek.
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