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Ameren Illinois Utilities Send More Resources to Southern Illinois, 1,900 Field, Support Staff Working to Turn Lights Back On

Service Restored to 35,000 Customers

MARION, Ill., May 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The Ameren Illinois Utilities (AIU) have increased the size of their small army of field and support personnel to 1,900 people working restore service in storm ravaged Southern Illinois, where over the past 69 hours the lights have been turned back on for approximately 35,000 customers.

Despite the widespread damage, AIU has been able to restore service to several critical care facilities, including Carbondale Memorial Hospital, Herrin Hospital, Ferrell Hospital in Eldorado, VA Hospital in Marion, Fountainview Nursing Home in Eldorado, Ridgway Manor in Ridgway, Marion Water Plant and the Carrier Mills Nursing and Rehabilitation facility.

At 10:20 a.m. today, about 33,800 AIU residential and business customers are still without electric service, down from the peak outage count of 68,800 customers. The Ameren Illinois Utilities 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 Wednesday or Thursday.

"We appreciate the patience and support of all of our customers, many of whom are also dealing with damage to their own homes and businesses," said Ron Pate, AIU vice president of Regional Operations. "We want to reassure everyone that we will be on the job in Southern Illinois until the lights are on for every customer."

Up-to-date information on the electrical service restoration effort as well as safety advice and weather reports are available at IllinoisOutage.com. Also, the Web site features photos and videos of the storm damage and service restoration effort.

To facilitate the restoration effort, the Ameren Illinois Utilities are now using an automated calling system to contact customers in impacted areas. The system allows customers to indicate if their service has been restored or is still out. This information is then put into the AIU outage reporting system so service can be safely restored. In addition, customers can call AIU to report outages or downed wires: 1-888-789-2477 (AmerenCIPS), 1-800-755-7000 (AmerenIP) and 1-888-672-5252 (AmerenCILCO).

Customers who do not have access to telephones may visit the just opened temporary AIU Customer Service Center located in the Carbondale City Hall at 200 S. Illinois Ave. In addition, AIU has a temporary Customer Service Center at the southwest entrance to Marion Mall close to the Sears.

"The magnitude of the storm damage is making our service restoration work more challenging. We a have brought additional crews, support personnel and specialized equipment to get the lights back on safely and as quickly as possible," Pate said.

In addition, AIU has established a central crew and material staging area in Carbondale. Two Storm Trailers are now at the new staging area. There also is a Storm Trailer in Murphysboro 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.

"I have said this before, but I again will stress that safety must be everyone's top priority. Nothing else is more important. 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.

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.

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/