Hello, I'm Mark Pearson. Five days after round two of holiday blizzards roared through several plains states, residents are still digging out. Nearly 10,000 customers in Kansas and Nebraska are without power, and 15 communities are operating on rented generators. The storms are being blamed for at least 13 deaths and their impact on livestock could be staggering. In Colorado, officials estimate 3,500 cattle are dead and thousands are missing. Light snow and 40 mile-per-hour winds are in the forecast for parts of Colorado again late this week. And the encores are taking their toll on the state's cattle.
Back-to-back holiday blizzards that hit four plains and mountain states have left major devastation in their wake. Blowing snow created drifts as high as 15 feet across parts of eastern Colorado, southern Nebraska, western Kansas, and the pan-handle of Oklahoma. Residents continue to dig out as rescue crews attempt to bring them much needed food and supplies.
In Colorado, where the storms have already has claimed 13 lives, officials are concerned about the survival of 340,000 cattle that are unaccounted for. Across the four states, the herd, worth an estimated $1.8 billion, is expected to survive only 5 to 10 days without food.
Ranchers in helicopters have landed on rivers this week, and chopped through the ice to give stranded cattle water. So far, National Guard troops have delivered nearly 1,000 bales of hay via trucks and air drops from military aircraft.
The Governors of Nebraska and Kansas, as well as Democratic Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado, are asking President Bush for disaster aid. By some estimates, the recent winter storms are worse than the 1997 blizzard that killed 30,000 cattle and caused $28 million in damage.