Damage was most significant in the St. Louis city, county and metro east regions of Illinois. The storm caused extensive tree damage, broken poles and downed wires in addition to the loss of more than 400 distribution feeder circuits\-each supplying power to between 500 and 1,500 customers.
The storm hit around 7 p.m. last night, with about 450,000 customers remaining without service as of 6 a.m., today (Thursday, July 20). The company has restored service to more than 100,000.
Given the nature of the damage, Ameren companies cannot offer customers anticipated restoration times but will make those available as soon as possible.
"We have called out all Ameren company crews, available contractor crews and are requesting assistance from utility companies throughout the region. We do appreciate our customers' patience during this critical time," said Richard Mark, senior vice president, AmerenUE Missouri Energy Delivery. "We are working closely with city and state officials and emergency response personnel to coordinate restoration efforts and ensure customer safety. Work will be continuing around the clock. Today is expected to be one of the hottest this year, making it critically important that customers stay safe and remain alert to signs of heat exhaustion."
Customers should take cool baths or showers, stay out of direct sunlight, wear lightweight loose-fitting clothes and avoid hot foods and heavy meals. They should drink water frequently\-whether they feel thirsty or not. Anyone experiencing dizziness, dry skin (with no sweating) great weakness, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting should seek medical help. Anyone feeling disoriented, experiencing a throbbing headache or rapid heartbeat, breathing problems, chest pains or cramps should seek medical help. Customers without electricity should find a cool place\-open stores, libraries or other locations--rather than stay at home.
Ameren, through its subsidiaries, serves 2.4 million electric customers and one million natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Missouri and Illinois.
NOTE TO EDITORS and NEWS DIRECTORS:
Ameren offers these tips for your safety and for coping with power outages (also available on www.ameren.com):
Check on the elderly. If you know an elderly person in your neighborhood who is without power, check on that person's health.
Watch out for downed wires. If you see a fallen or sagging wire, assume that it is still energized and dangerous. Electric power lines can carry power even after being knocked to the ground. Stay away and warn others to do the same.
Pull some plugs. Turn off or disconnect the refrigerator, freezer, television, air conditioner and other major appliances that would go on automatically when the power is restored. This precaution will avoid overloading a circuit when power comes back on - and the chance of a second interruption. After power is restored, turn them on one at a time.
Flip a switch. Turn one or two light switches on so you will know when your service is restored.
Keep your home as cool as possible: During the heat of the day, avoid activities that would add heat and humidity to your home. For maximum efficiency and comfort, position the a battery-operated fan to blow air out of the house during daylight hours and pull cooler air into the house after dark. For a window fan to work properly there should always be another window open in the area the fan is meant to ventilate.
There are also some steps you can take during and after a storm to ensure the safety of your family, home and pets.
Keep your food cold. Resist the urge to peek in on the refrigerator and freezer. Food will stay cold or frozen longer if the appliance stays closed.
? Use caution with your food. Check with your local health department and remember the rule, "When in doubt, throw it out!" The University of Illinois Extension Service says these foods should be discarded after four hours without power:
o Raw or cooked meat, poultry and seafood
o Milk, cream, yogurt and soft cheeses
o Cooked pasta and pasta salads
o Custard, chiffon and cheese pies
o Fresh eggs and egg substitutes
o Meat-topped pizza and lunch meats
o Casseroles, soups and stews
o Mayonnaise and tartar sauce
o Cookie dough
These foods should be safe for a few days without power:
o Butter and margarine
o Fresh fruits and vegetables
o Opened jars of salad dressing, jelly, relish, taco sauce, barbecue sauce, mustard, ketchup and olives
o Hard and processed cheeses