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White House declares disaster in Missouri counties


Washington, DC – The White House said this morning (Tuesday) that President Bush has declared a federal disaster in 35 Missouri counties after last weekend's storms.

It covers the counties of Barry, Barton, Callaway, Camden, Christian, Cole, Crawford, Dade, Dallas, Dent, Franklin, Gasconade, Greene, Hickory, Jasper, Laclede, Lawrence, Lincoln, Maries, McDonald, Miller, Montgomery, Newton, Osage, Phelps, Polk, Pulaski, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Louis, St. Louis City, Stone, Warren, Webster, and Wright.

The money could be used for debris removal and emergency protective measures.

"I encourage everyone in the affected areas to continue checking on their neighbors during this time as we work to assist those who have been impacted by these deadly ice storms," said Gov. Matt Blunt, in a statement.

About 28,000 Ameren customers in the St. Louis region were still without power this morning, as of about 9:00, according to the company's website. Most are in St Charles and western St. Louis Counties.

But Ameren says everyone should be back on Wednesday evening.

Tens of thousands of homes are also out in southwest Missouri, including Governor Matt Blunt's home in Springfield.

A number of schools are closed today and there are now eight deaths in Missouri being blamed on the storm. Also, the roof of First Baptist Church in Webb City collapsed under the weight of ice and snow.

The collapse tipped the steeple nearly parallel to the ground. A group of parishioners was meeting inside to discuss cracks that were developing in the roof and walls of the sanctuary. No one was hurt.