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1,000 Ameren Illinois Utilities Workers Continue Service Restoration Effort Following Second Round of Damaging Storms

PEORIA, Ill., Aug. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The Ameren Illinois Utilities field crews are working 16-hour shifts to provide around the clock coverage in order to restore electrical service to thousands of customers in the wake of yet another round of severe summer thunderstorms that pounded southwestern Illinois Tuesday evening.

Approximately 600 linemen, 200 tree trimmers and 200 support personnel have been assigned to the storm restoration effort. The service recovery effort is being directed by the Ameren Illinois Utilities Emergency Operations Center.

Outages first peaked at about 28,000 Tuesday morning, but were reduced to about 8,000 by evening. Then the next round of storms pushed outages back up to a total of about 33,000 Tuesday night. As of 9:00 a.m. today, the number of outages had been reduced to about 9,000.

It is estimated that most customers will have their service restored this afternoon and early evening. However, isolated outages may persist until Thursday. In addition, additional severe weather may result in additional outages or hamper ongoing restoration work.

In addition, the Ameren Illinois Utilities are prepared for the possibility of severe weather that has been forecasted for southern Illinois this afternoon.

Residents in the storm impacted areas are urged to be aware of the possibility of downed electrical wires. People should stay away from brush and downed trees which may hide downed wires, and warn others to do the same.

Anyone who sees a downed wire should immediately report it by calling their Ameren Illinois Utility (AmerenCILCO - 1-888-672-5252; AmerenCIPS - 1-888-789-2477; AmerenIP - 1-800-755-5000).

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.

Generator Safety

Anyone using a portable generator should follow strict safety requirements to prevent injury or death both to themselves and to the utility field crews attempting to restore power. Customers planning to install a temporary generator must first open the main breaker or remove the main fuses before connecting the generator to the electrical systems. Failure to do this could seriously injure utility crews working on outside power lines, and/or it could cause damage to a neighbor's property or the customer's own equipment.

Customers should never use a portable generator indoors, including in a home, garage, basement, shed or partially-enclosed area -- even with ventilation. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent the carbon monoxide exhaust from building up in the home. Only use a portable generator outdoors in a dry area, away from doors, windows and vents. Customers should also exercise extreme caution when handling fuel for portable generators, especially when re-fueling hot generators.

Information regarding permanently installed generators, a full description of the Ameren Illinois Utilities' power restoration process, along with advice on how customers can cope with outages is available under "Storm Center" on the Ameren Web site: 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, +1-217-535-5228, or Neal Johnson,
+1-309-677-5284, both for Ameren Illinois Utilities

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