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State of emergency declared

CINCINNATI (AP) — Gov. John Kasich declared a state of emergency Saturday as hundreds of thousands of residents faced a heat wave without power in the aftermath of severe storms that hit with strong winds that one utility compared to Hurricane Ike's in 2008.

Kasich said widespread outages and damage could cause power restoration to take up to a week as Ohio faced a severe heat wave with 100-degree temperatures expected in some areas Saturday. He said that could mean "crisis situations" for children, the elderly and people with medical conditions.

"I'm very concerned with the problems created by the combination of power outages and severe heat, and so I've declared an emergency for all of Ohio so that state resources and personnel can help local governments meet the needs and challenges they face," Kasich said in a statement. He said the state has been in contact with federal officials and would seek federal emergency help if it's needed.

State emergency officials said 800,000 to 1 million people still had power outages as of Saturday morning. State emergency workers, the American Red Cross and volunteers were monitoring needs and recovery efforts across the state.

American Electric Power reported 500,000 of its customers across Ohio, including much of the capital of Columbus, and into West Virginia were without power. AEP said damaged poles and distribution circuits will slow restoration for days. It said winds rivaled those of Hurricane Ike's remnants in 2008, topping 75 mph.

That storm caused more than $1 billion in damage across Ohio and is considered the state's costliest natural disaster.

State emergency officials were still assessing damages and injury reports Saturday. One death had been confirmed so far: a woman in eastern Ohio's Muskingum County who was killed Friday night inside a barn hit by high winds.

The storms hit much of state during Friday evening rush hour, caused multiple accidents and left several motorists trapped in their vehicles Friday evening by downed power lines.

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