St. Louis, MO (May 9, 2009) – AmerenUE is responding aggressively to restore power to those communities affected by severe storms that blew through the Cape Girardeau, Potosi and St. Francois areas early yesterday afternoon.
The storms, which carried hurricane-force winds, tornadoes and heavy rain, knocked out power to more than 23,600 customers in total. As of noon today, power had been restored more than 13,600 customers. Less than 10,000 remain without service. UE officials state that the strong winds did significant damage to the company’s poles, electrical wires and facilities.
Immediately following yesterday’s storm, UE mobilized all of its contractor crews—about 175 workers—and personnel from other divisions. In addition, one of the company’s mobile command centers and a storm trailer were dispatched to the Pilot Knob area. The 55-foot storm trailers are stocked with about $100,000 worth of materials commonly needed to repair equipment damaged by storms. When a severe storm strikes, these trailers are dispatched to a central location close to the damage so crews can quickly obtain essential materials.
In the hours following the storm, about 160 additional line workers from around the company traveled to southeast Missouri to aid the restoration effort. About 130 tree trimmers are working ahead of these crews, clearing the many trees and tree limbs that pulled down UE lines and snapped poles. About 50 field checkers are on the ground, assessing the damage. Currently, more than 700 UE and contract personnel are in the field working to restore power.
Continuing rain, flooding and trees down over roads are presenting challenges for these crews. Despite the poor conditions, UE expects to make significant progress today, with power restored to virtually all affected customers by tomorrow evening (May 10).
UE reminds 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 UE at 1-800-552-7583 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.
While every effort is being made to restore power as quickly as possible, customers with special needs—including those with medical conditions, seniors, handicapped and others who are dependent on electric service—may wish to consider making alternative arrangements if outages in their areas persist.
We also urge our customers to look in on neighbors, especially seniors and those with medical conditions. Checking on these people during outages will help keep them safe and comfortable.
Additional storm safety information is available on the Storm Center on Ameren’s Web site – the first choice on the left navigation bar (www.ameren.com).
With residential electric retail rates that are about 38 percent below the national average, UE provides electricity and natural gas to 1.2 million customers in Missouri. UE’s parent, Ameren Corporation, through its affiliates, serves 2.4 million electric and nearly 1 million natural gas customers across 64,000 square miles of Missouri and Illinois.