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Ameren Illinois Utilities Crews Working to Restore Power Caused by Severe Thunderstorms
Customers Warned to Stay Clear of Downed Wires, Exercise Electric, Natural Gas Caution in the Event of Flooding

PEORIA, SPRINGFIELD and DECATUR, Ill., June 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Locally severe thunderstorms and high winds have resulted in power outages in portions of the Ameren Illinois Utilities service territory with the threat of more severe weather this afternoon and evening.

About 9,900 customers remained without power at 3:30 p.m. today. The areas hardest hit include Macon, Menard, Cass, Sangamon, McDonough, Edgar and other portions of Central Illinois. The severe storms toppled utility polls in some areas, resulting in temporary closings of Ill. Rte. 29 north of Greenview and U.S. Rte. 67 at Industry.

The Ameren Illinois Utilities have mobilized field crews to restore service as quickly as possible. In the meantime, the Ameren Illinois Utilities are reminding customers that safety is the first and foremost concern.

The most important safety rule is to stay clear of downed power lines and always call your Ameren Illinois Utility or '911' if you see downed lines. Assume all downed power lines are energized. Stay inside, especially at night because you may walk into an energized power line. Stay clear of brush, shrubs and downed trees that may hide downed lines.

The measures customers should take to prepare for a power outage or loss of natural gas service are similar to those needed to prepare for any emergency situation.

  The Ameren Illinois Utilities offer these tips:

  -- If your electric service is interrupted, be sure to unplug or protect
     sensitive computer and electronic equipment with a high-quality surge
  -- If your power goes out, check first with a neighbor to see if you are
     the only one without power.  If you are the only one without service,
     check your panel box for a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse.  If
     any breakers are in the "off" position or if a fuse is blown, you
     should investigate the problem.  If you are still without power, or if
     others in your neighborhood are experiencing a power outage, call your
     Ameren Illinois Utilities at any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a
     week -- and always call as soon as possible to report a downed line or
     natural gas odor!  The Ameren Illinois Utilities numbers are
     888-672-5252 (AmerenCILCO), 888-789-2477 (AmerenCIPS) and
     800-755-7000 (AmerenIP).

A full description of the Ameren Illinois Utilities' restoration process and tips on how customers can prepare for service disruptions is available on the Ameren Web site at http://www.ameren.com/ (select "Outage Information" from the left-hand menu, select Ameren Illinois Outage Information and then select "Ameren's Storm Response" from the left-hand menu). Customers can learn more about power outage situations by visiting selecting "Outage Information" and then such menu options as the "Outage Map" and "My Electric Outage."

Flood Threat

In addition to downed wires, the heavy rains have raised the possibility of localized flooding in many portions of the Ameren Illinois Service territory. As a result, residents must be aware of the electrical hazards and natural gas safety issues that can occur during floods, according to the Ameren Illinois Utilities.

When water comes into contact with energized electrical wiring, appliances and other devices, it creates a serious threat of serious injury and electrocution.

  The Ameren Illinois Utilities offer these key electric safety tips:

  -- Never enter a flooded basement or other flooded area where water may be
     in contact with electrical wiring, appliances and other devices.
  -- Under no circumstances should you attempt to turn off power at the main
     electrical panel box if you must stand in water or even on a wet floor
     to do so.
  -- Furthermore, never operate electrical appliances or devices or touch
     electrical switches, outlets or cords if you are standing in water or
     are on a wet surface, or if you are wet.
  -- Keep all electric-powered tools and equipment at least 10 feet away
     from water and wet surfaces.  Do not use electric tools and equipment
     outdoors if the ground is wet.

  Natural gas safety tips:

  -- If you detect a strong odor of natural gas, immediately leave your home
     or business and call your Ameren Illinois Utilities (AmerenCILCO --
     1-888-672-5252; AmerenCIPS -- 1-888-789-2477; AmerenIP --
     1-800-755-5000).  Do not turn lights on or off, operate any electrical
     device, use a phone or light a match inside or near the building.
  -- If you detect a faint odor of natural gas, attempt to follow the odor
     to its source.  It may be an extinguished pilot light or a partially
     turned on burner valve.  These are problems you can safely and easily

In the event of flooding, the Ameren Illinois Utilities will turn off electrical power to a home or business at the request of a customer. Customers should contact their Ameren Illinois Utilities to have the power turned off when flood waters are likely to reach the main electrical panel box. The Ameren Illinois Utilities also will turn power off at the request of local authorities.

If flood waters reach the controls of a natural gas furnace, water heater or other appliance (generally, the controls are located at the bottom the appliance), contact your Ameren Illinois Utilities to have your natural gas service turned off. The Ameren Illinois Utilities also will turn off natural gas service at the request of local authorities.

The Ameren Illinois Utilities recommend following these tips after a flood:

  -- If an electrical appliance has been in contact with water, have a
     professional electrician or appliance repair person check it first.
     Often, appliances must be repaired or replaced.
  -- If you have any doubts about the safety of your home or business
     electrical system, have it inspected by a professional electrician.
  -- Call in a professional service person to inspect a furnace, water
     heater and any other natural gas appliance that was entirely or
     partially submerged.
  -- If your electrical or natural gas service was turned off, contact your
     Ameren Illinois Utilities to have it turned on after you have made
     certain your electrical and natural gas systems are safe to use.  Never
     attempt to turn services on yourself.

Additional safety information is available on the Ameren Web site (http://www.ameren.com/).

The Ameren Illinois Utilities serve 1.2 million electric and more than 840,000 natural gas customers in a 43,700-square-mile area of Illinois.


Ameren offers these tips for your safety and for coping with power outages (also available on http://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.

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:

   - Raw or cooked meat, poultry and seafood
   - Milk, cream, yogurt and soft cheeses
   - Cooked pasta and pasta salads
   - Custard, chiffon and cheese pies
   - Fresh eggs and egg substitutes
   - Meat-topped pizza and lunch meats
   - Casseroles, soups and stews
   - Mayonnaise and tartar sauce
   - Cookie dough

  These foods should be safe for a few days without power:

   - Butter and margarine
   - Fresh fruits and vegetables
   - Opened jars of salad dressing, jelly, relish, taco sauce, barbecue
     sauce, mustard, ketchup and olives
   - Hard and processed cheeses

SOURCE: Ameren Illinois Utilities

CONTACT: Leigh Morris of Ameren Illinois Utilities, +1-217-535-5228

Web site: http://www.ameren.com/