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Ameren Illinois Activates Emergency Operations Center; Issues Electric, Natural Gas Flood Safety Information

PEORIA, Ill., April 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Ameren Illinois activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) this morning in response to major flooding in Southern Illinois that could impact both electric and natural gas service in some areas.

"The safety of our customers and co-workers is our first and foremost concern. It is imperative that residents be aware of the electrical hazards and natural gas safety issues that may occur during floods," said Ron Pate, Ameren Illinois vice president of Operations.

At this time, major flooding is occurring along the Ohio River with record flooding at Cairo. Record flooding also is forecast for the Big Muddy River at Murphysboro and a near record for the Patoka River at Princeton. Major flooding is occurring or forecast for portions of the Mississippi, Green, Wabash, Little Wabash and White rivers.

As electrical substations in at-risk areas become threatened, Ameren Illinois is switching electrical feeds to alternate substations in order to maintain service. Natural gas regulator stations are being monitored in areas threatened by flooding. While flood-related outages at this time are at a minimum, the situation is being closely monitored.

Electrical safety advice:

  • When water comes into contact with energized electrical wiring, appliances and other devices, it creates a major threat of serious injury and electrocution.
  • Never enter a flooded basement or other flooded area where water may be in contact with electrical wiring, appliances and other devices.
  • Never attempt to turn off power at the main electrical panel box if you must stand in water or on a wet floor to do so.
  • Never use electrical appliances or devices or touch electrical switches, outlets or cords if you are standing in water or are on a wet surface, or even if you are wet or the device is wet.
  • Keep electric-powered tools and equipment at least 10 feet away from water and wet surfaces.

In the event of flooding, Ameren Illinois will turn off electrical power to a home or business at the request of a customer. Contact Ameren Illinois at 1-800-755-5000 to have the power turned off when flood waters are likely to reach the main electrical panel box. Ameren Illinois also will turn power off at the request of local authorities.

Natural gas safety advice:

  • If you detect a strong odor of natural gas, immediately leave your home or business and call Ameren Illinois Customer Service at 1-800-755-5000. Do not turn lights on or off, operate any electrical device, use a phone or light a match inside or near the building.
  • If you detect a faint odor of natural gas, attempt to follow the odor to its source. It may be an extinguished pilot light or a partially turned on burner valve. These are problems you can safely and easily fix. If you cannot fix the problem, leave your home or business and call Ameren Illinois Customer Service at 1-800-755-5000.

If flood waters reach or are likely to reach the controls of a natural gas furnace, water heater or other appliance (generally, the controls are located at the bottom of the appliance), call Ameren Illinois at 1-800-755-5000 to have the natural gas service turned off. Ameren Illinois also will turn off natural gas service at the request of local authorities.

Ameren Illinois recommends these actions after a flood:

  • Before touching or unplugging electrical appliances or devices that have been in contact with water, turn off the circuit that feeds the appliance or have the power to the building disconnected.
  • If you have any doubts about the safety of your home or business electrical system, have it inspected by a professional electrician.
  • Have a professional service person inspect an air conditioner, furnace, water heater and any other electrical or natural gas appliance or device that was entirely or partially submerged to determine if it can be used, requires repairs or must be replaced
  • If electrical or natural gas service has been turned off, contact Ameren Illinois at 1-800-755-5000 to have it turned on once the electrical and natural gas systems have been determined by a service professional to be safe.  

Additional safety information is available at IllinoisOutage.com and at SafeElectricity.org. Additional flood recovery information is available from the University of Illinois Extension at web.extension.illinois.edu/disaster/.

Ameren Illinois delivers energy to 1.2 million electric and 813,000 natural gas customers in Downstate Illinois, and our mission is to meet their energy needs in a safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally responsible manner. Our service area covers more than 1,200 communities and 43,700 square miles. For more information, visit AmerenIllinois.com.

SOURCE Ameren Illinois