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Ameren Illinois Utilities Personnel Working to Turn the Lights on for 6,500 Southern Illinois Customers;

Electricity Flowing for 5,400 as Restoration Efforts Continue into the Night

MARION, Ill., Jan. 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- -- After restoring service to about 5,400 customers today, 403 Ameren Illinois Utilities field personnel are working into the night to restore electrical service to about 6,500 Southern Illinois customers without lights in the wake of the ice storm.

Up to two inches of ice has coated power lines and trees, causing massive outages in Alexander, Gallatin, Johnson, Pulaski and Union counties. It is estimated that service will be restored to most customers by late Friday, though isolated outages may persist due to damage to individual service lines to homes. The threat of additional outages remains because of the heavy ice accumulations on trees and power lines.

Outages occurred when ice coated trees and tree limbs fell into power lines, resulting in downed power lines and a number of broken poles. The effort to turn the lights back on is being hampered by ice-coated roads, downed trees that have blocked roadways and road closures caused by ice and accidents.

The restoration effort is being directed by the Ameren Illinois Utilities Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to direct the service restoration effort. The Ameren Illinois Utilities have placed a Storm Trailer in Anna. The Storm Trailer serves as a portable utility storeroom, providing a centralized source of materials for crews working to restore service.

Because of the downed wires, Ron Pate, vice president of Ameren Illinois Utilities Regional Operations, is urging residents to stay away from downed power lines.

"Never go outside in the dark because you won't be able to see a downed power line that could still be energized and dangerous. Stay away from brush, shrubs and downed trees that may hide downed lines," Pate said.

To report downed power lines or other problems, customers should call the Ameren Illinois Utilities: 1-888-672-5252 (AmerenCILCO), 1-888-789-2477 (AmerenCIPS) and 1-800-755-7000 (AmerenIP) or "911."

Customer Safety Advice

In order to stay warm and prevent hypothermia, residents are urged to follow these tips:

  • Dress in warm, layered clothing.
  • Check on neighbors, especially the elderly and those with medical conditions to make certain they are safe and warm.
  • Remain indoors as much as possible.
  • Place towels or rags along the bottom of doors to keep the cold out. Do the same for drafty windows.
  • Keep drapes and shades closed at night. During a sunny day, open shades and drapes on the sunny side of the home to take advantage of solar heating.
  • Eat to provide your body with the energy needed help stay warm. Drink plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration.
  • Remain active, but avoid strenuous activities that cause perspiration.
  • Consider staying with friends or relatives or going to a warming center if you cannot keep your home reasonably warm. Remember, infants and the elderly are more susceptible to the cold than the rest of us.
  • Customers planning to use a portable 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 because of the threat of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

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.

Editor's Note:

For current information on the restoration effort, please visit www.illinoisoutage.com

SOURCE: Ameren Illinois Utilities

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