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Lights Back On for 28,600 Ameren Illinois Utilities Customers, Electricity to be Flowing for Majority of Customers by Late Tuesday

Additional Personnel, Equipment Headed for Carbondale

MARION, Ill., May 10 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Lights have been turned back on for about 28,600 Ameren Illinois Utilities (AIU) customers in Southern Illinois, while more than 1,400 field and support personnel continue to repair the extensive damage caused by Friday's inland hurricane.

Throughout the day, field crews have encountered major unexpected damage to the AIU electrical distribution system in and around Carbondale. As a result, the AIU Emergency Operations Center is sending additional field personnel and specialized equipment to help overcome the enormous damage caused by the exceptionally violent spring storm.

At 5:20 p.m. today, about 40,200 AIU customers are still without electric service, down from the peak outage count of 68,800 customers. The Ameren Illinois Utilities now anticipate the majority of all customers will have their lights back on by late Tuesday night. However, the unexpected severity of the damage in Carbondale means that service in and around that city may not be fully restored until Thursday.

"We have encountered uprooted trees with root balls 10 feet in height that must be cleared away before we can repair damaged distribution lines," said Ron Pate, AIU vice president of Regional Operations. "As streets are being cleared or trees and debris and we are able to get to every area of Carbondale, we are discovering severe damage to our poles, wires and equipment that far exceeded our expectations.

"Unfortunately, the magnitude of the damage is making our service restoration work more difficult. We are bringing additional crews, support personnel and specialized equipment into the area to meet this intensified challenge," Pate said.

In addition, AIU has established a new central crew and material staging area in Carbondale. A Storm Trailer is being moved from Murphysboro to the new staging area. Storm Trailers are now 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 are moved to central staging sites to provide essential materials in the areas with the greatest damage.

To further facilitate the restoration work, AIU has established a base camp in Marion to provide a centralized location to provide meals for personnel. Because of the shortage of motel rooms, the base camp also has trailers that can sleep about 200 AIU workers.

"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," 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). 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.

Current information on the electrical service restoration effort as well as safety advice and weather reports are available at IllinoisOutage.com.

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/