Power still out for more than 51,000 Missourians; forecast calls for snow

Friday, December 14, 2007

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) -- More than 51,000 customers in Missouri were still without power Friday as utility crews hurried to repair connections ahead of a possible weekend snowstorm.

Five days after the first of several waves of ice storms crossed Missouri, power outages were still reported mainly in western Missouri. At the peak of the ice damage Tuesday, more than 165,000 customers lost power in southwestern, northwestern and central Missouri.

State officials dispatched medical teams including nurses and paramedics to help in three shelters for people with special needs in northwest Missouri, Gov. Matt Blunt's office said.

Local officials had requested help for special needs shelters in St. Joseph, Maryville and Savannah, Blunt said. The shelters serve people with physical or mental health needs.

The State Emergency Management Agency, which collects utility reports, said AmerenUE reported all customers were back online after thousands lost power, mainly in central Missouri.

Aquila Inc. reported about 22,000 customers without power, mainly in the St. Joseph and Maryville areas, a SEMA spokeswoman said.

Empire District Inc. in Joplin said about 20,000 meters were still off, mainly in Joplin and the Webb City and Lamar areas.

"We believe that the major repair work to the transmission and distribution system will be completed by Friday evening. Work will continue through the weekend to repair thousands of individual services," Empire District said in a statement.

Rural electrical cooperatives reported about 9,450 customers without power.

Cleanup work continued as well to move trees and branches that were felled across region by up to an inch of ice.

More rough winter weather was expected over the weekend. The National Weather Service was predicting two waves of snow Friday night and Saturday that could dump up to 7 inches across much of the region hit by ice.

Steve Runnels, warning coordinator of the National Weather Service in Springfield, said the storms were predicted to drop between 4 and 7 inches of snow in the region between Interstate 44 and Interstate 70.

North and south of that band, snow was still expected but in lesser amounts. The weather service issued a winter storm watch from late Friday through Saturday night for much of southwest and central Missouri.

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