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More than 1,400 Ameren Illinois Utilities Personnel Working this Mother's Day to get the Power Flowing to Southern Illinois Homes and Businesses

Crews take Aim at High-Voltage Transmission Lines

MARION, Ill., May 10 /PRNewswire/ -- As more than 1,400 Ameren Illinois Utilities (AIU) field and support personnel work this Mother's Day to turn the lights back on in Southern Illinois, personnel continue to make repairs to the high-voltage transmission lines.

When the "inland hurricane" struck Southern Illinois on Friday, transmission lines throughout the region suffered crippling damage. The repair effort has been made more challenging by the rugged terrain and downed trees. Once the transmission lines are restored to service, electricity will again be available to the distribution system that carries electricity to homes and businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ameren Illinois Utilities' small army of workers continues to repair the extensively damaged electricity distribution system. Friday's storm left hundreds of broken utility poles and downed wires in its wake. In many cases, crews must first remove tree limbs and even entire trees that crashed into power lines and on top of utility poles before poles and wires can be repaired.

The number of customer outages peaked on Friday at about 68,800. This number has been reduced to about 51,000. The Ameren Illinois Utilities anticipate electrical service will be restored to nearly all customers by late Tuesday night. However, it is expected that isolated outages may persist into latter part of the week as customers make repairs to their facilities, such as the meter base, weatherhead or point of attachment.

"Friday's inland hurricane has disrupted the lives of people throughout Southern Illinois, leaving in its aftermath widespread property damage and tens of thousands of our customers in the dark," said Sean Vanslyke, manager of AIU Community and Public Relations.

"We are very appreciative of the patience and understanding of our customers, especially on this Mother's Day 2009. We want to assure everyone that we will do whatever it takes to get the power flowing as quickly as possible to every home and business in Southern Illinois," Vanslyke said.

A force of more than 1,300 field and support personnel have been able to reduce the number of customer outages to about 56,200 at 5:00 p.m. today, down from a total of about 68,800 customer outages on Friday.

"We also remind everyone that safety must be everyone's first priority. Stay away from downed power lines. Never operate a portable generator indoors. When operating a portable generator, first open the main breaker or remove the main fuses before connecting the generator to your electrical system," Vanslyke 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). Customers who do not have access to telephones may visit the temporary AIU Customer Service Center at the southwest entrance to Marion Mall close to the Sears. It will be open through Tuesday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily.

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; First Methodist Church of Herrin, 305 S. 16th St., Herrin; Rehabilitation & Care Center of Jackson County, 1441 N. 14th St., Murphysboro; Community Building, 406 S. Poplar St., Bush; Christopher Civic Center, 208 N. Thomas St., Christopher, 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.

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 in the areas with the greatest damage.

Residents who must repair customer-owned facilities, such as the meter base, weatherhead or point of attachment, should have this work performed by a professional electrical contractor. These repairs must be completed before service can be safely restored.

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/