Storms topple Cape trees, power lines

Sunday, August 20, 2006

In the Fruitland area, lightning struck two people, but both refused medical treatment.

This time it wasn't the water. It was the wind.

A strong storm pushed through Cape Girardeau County between 3:30 and 6 p.m. Saturday, toppling trees and power lines in the northern parts of Cape Girardeau.

In the Fruitland area, firefighters responded to two cases of lightning striking people, said deputy fire chief Andy Renner.

One was at 3:45 p.m., a man at Flickerwood Arena who was leading a horse to a trailer, he said. The other occurred about 4:15 p.m., when lightning struck a woman driving along Interstate 55 at the 110.6 mile marker.

Both refused treatment, Renner said.

By 8 p.m., AmerenUE reported 2,931 customers without power in the Cape Girardeau area. Police, firefighters and public works crews closed streets including Big Bend Road and Cape Rock Drive because of numerous trees and power lines on the road.

The storm developed over northern Cape Girardeau County and moved slowly through central Cape Girardeau. During the early part of the storm, when the lightning struck people near Fruitland, the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning. Later, the weather service issued a flash flood advisory that lasted until 6:30 p.m.

The storms should bring relief from stifling heat. The temperature at Cape Girardeau Regional Airport peaked at 94 just before the storm. Today's high is forecast in the mid-80s.

Both Cape Girardeau police and fire department buildings operated on generators until 8:15 p.m., said Tracey Glenn, public information manager for the city of Cape Girardeau,.

Cape Girardeau firefighters were kept busy trying to prevent accidents by clearing tree limbs and keeping motorists guided away from downed power lines, said Capt. Brad Dillow.

"Right now, it is mainly the northeast part of town," Dillow said. "We are just now getting in touch with AmerenUE, and their people are getting out."

Glenn said most streets were cleared by 9:30 p.m. However, some people may still be without power today. Red Cross volunteers will be going door to door this morning to see who needs help, she said.

In two recent storms, emergency responders have had to deal with water flooding low-lying streets and motorists who drove around barricades. While the storm did bring heavy rain, any flooding was minor and short in duration, Dillow said.

"About 98 percent of the calls have been power lines down, trees down," he said. "We did have a couple of trees come down on some houses. In the last few weeks, it has been one thing after another."

Dillow advised anyone who sees a downed power line to leave it alone. "If it is arcing and it is down in an area where somebody could get hurt, call 911," he said. "If it is just down and it is in the back yard and not jeopardizing anyone, call Ameren."

On Monday, city crews will start picking up limbs that were knocked down by the storm, Glenn said. Residents need to cut the limbs into "manageable" pieces and leave them on their property near the curb.

rkeller@sermissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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