Weather helps area utilities restore power

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Milder weather helped the region's utility crews Saturday as they continued to repair the damage from the ice storm that knocked out power to tens of thousands of customers.

"We're making good progress because of the good melt," AmerenUE spokeswoman Susan Gallagher said.

Temperatures reached as high as 40 degrees Saturday, and today's forecast calls for a high of 52, although there is a chance of rain or snow in the evening.

At 11 p.m. Saturday, AmerenUE had 17,000 customers without power, according to the company's website. That is down from more than 26,000 Friday.

Isolated areas are expected to have power restored as early as midweek, Gallagher said, adding that she could not name those areas but that Ameren will possibly do so today.

Some 4,000 support staff, including tree trimmers, damage assessors and line workers, are out in the field, she said. In addition, 1,650 line workers from Colorado, Kansas, Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Iowa and Georgia are helping.

In Sikeston, about 20 percent of residential areas had power restored by Saturday afternoon, according to Sgt. Jim McMillen of the Sikeston Department of Public Safety.

Sikeston Board of Municipal Utilities operational manager Wayne McSpadden said the Missouri Delta Medical Center and some nearby residential homes were back on the system. The city is running on about 30 percent power, but that could rise to 50 percent today with more good weather.

Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative said about 5,000 customers were without power early Saturday morning, down 1,000 from the previous day.

Black River Electric Coop in Fredericktown, Mo., had about 20 men working Saturday to help SEMO Electric Cooperative. Keith Myers, weekend standby supervisor for Black River, said he had not been in close contact with workers.

"Power is still not restored in some substations, but we're pretty optimistic it will be soon," he said.

cpagano@semissourian.com

388-3648

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