OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Lt. Gov. Jari Askins signed a state of emergency declaration for Oklahoma on Monday because of the deadly ice storm as she continued in her role as acting governor. Askins has been acting governor since last week, when Gov. Brad Henry flew to Honolulu for the dedication of the USS Oklahoma Memorial.
The state Capitol building was closed to all but emergency personnel on Monday, but Askins was on the job.
She joined public safety officials in urging Oklahomans to stay home unless it was "absolutely necessary."
"I would also encourage neighbors to check on neighbors, especially the elderly, and make sure they have heat and if not to contract city officials to find the locations of emergency shelters," Askins said.
The winter ice storm has left 12 dead and more than 400,000 without electricity.
"In my efforts to get to the Capitol, it was clear that neighborhood streets are very treacherous," Askins said. "We've had 12 fatalities so far and we do not want that number to rise."
Those traveling to the Hawaii were greeted last week with downpours of rain from a tropical storm. Askins said the rain affected cell phone coverage in the days leading up to Friday's memorial dedication.
On Monday, the weather situation in Honolulu had improved considerably, with a high of 76 forecast, along with a 60 percent chance of rain.
"In all situations, we've got international communications in this day and age," said Paul Sund, Henry spokesman. "We're staying in touch with the governor and he is staying on
top of the situation, working with the lieutenant governor to make sure all the proper documentation is sent off for emergency assistance,"
He said the governor, first lady Kim Henry and their children are expected to return to Oklahoma later in the week.
Askins said the number of Oklahomans without power has already surpassed those left without electricity during an ice storm last December in eastern Oklahoma and there is concern the number could increase as rain-sweep roads begin to freeze during the night.