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More than 1,200 Personnel Working to Get Electricity Flowing for about 63,500 Southern Illinois Customers

Ameren Illinois Utilities Aim to Complete Restoration by Midnight Tuesday

MARION, Ill., May 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- With a small army of more than 1,200 men and women working to restore power to about 63,500 Southern Illinois electricity customers, the Ameren Illinois Utilities have set a goal of completing the restoration effort by midnight on Tuesday, May 12.

Winds described as an "inland hurricane" toppled hundreds of utility poles, brought electric wires to the ground, slammed trees into transmission lines and damaged equipment in Carbondale, Marion and surrounding areas, according to Ron Pate, Ameren Illinois Utilities (AIU) vice president of Regional Operations.

The massive electric service operation is being directed by the Ameren Illinois Utilities Emergency Operations Center. Current information on the electrical service restoration effort as well as safety advice and weather reports are available at IllinoisOutage.com.

In addition to field and support personnel, the Ameren Illinois Utilities have deployed four Storm Trailers to the impacted area. The trailers are located at Murphysboro, Sparta and two in Marion. The Storm Trailers are mobile storerooms, stocked with the material field crews need to get the lights back on. The trailers can be moved to central staging sites to provide essential materials areas with the greatest damage.

The Ameren Illinois Utilities also have a special Customer Service Center in the Marion Mall near the Sears store for customers who do not have access to phone service. It will be open through Tuesday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. each day.

According to the American Red Cross, storm shelters have been established at the Senior Center, 507 W. Main St., Marion; Herrin High School, 700 N. Tenth St., Herrin; Community Building, 406 S. Poplar St., Bush; and Our Saviors Lutheran, 700 S. University, Carbondale. For additional information, contact the Red Cross office at 665 N. Airport Rd., Murphysboro, at 1-618-988-1147.

"Safety continues to be our major concern," Pate said. "I want to remind everyone that we have downed power lines throughout the impacted area. It is imperative that people stay away from these downed lines and to always call us or '911' if you see downed lines. Do not go outside in the dark because you won't be able to see a downed power line that may still be energized and dangerous. Avoid brush, shrubs and fallen trees that may hide downed lines."

The Ameren Illinois Utilities anticipate many customers will need the services of an electrical contractor to reattach or repair customer-owned facilities, such as the meter base, weatherhead or point of attachment, before their electric service can be restored. This will likely mean some customers will not be able to restore service until later in the week. (NOTE: A diagram is available at www.ameren.com.)

The Ameren Illinois Utilities are reporting significant outages in eight Sothern Illinois Counties: Franklin, Gallatin, Jackson, Johnson, Perry, Saline, Union and Williamson.

"After a storm, some customers ask how we go about restoring service," Pate said. "Our first priority is to correct potentially life-threatening situations, such as downed power lines and to restore service to hospitals that are without power. Next, we implement power restoration plans focused on restoring power for the greatest number of customers in the shortest length of time."

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.

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).

The Ameren Illinois Utilities (AmerenCIPS, AmerenCILCO, AmerenIP) have been providing safe, reliable energy delivery service for more than a century. The Ameren Illinois Utilities deliver energy to 1.2 million electric and 840,000 natural gas customers in more than 1,200 communities within a 43,700-square-mile service territory.


Ameren offers these tips for your safety and for coping with power outages:

Check on the elderly. If you know an elderly person in your neighborhood that 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

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