Storm recovery update

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Southeast Missourian

BENTON, Mo. — Repairs crews are taking advantage of the relatively mild temperatures to speed ahead with repairs of electric lines damaged during the ice storm. But in some areas, it could be more than two weeks before some get power restored. As of 4 p.m. Sunday, AmerenUE’s website indicated 5,467 without power in Pemiscot County; 4,485 in New Madrid County, 2,698 in Stoddard County; 1,455 in Scott County; 1,081 in Dunklin County; and 590 in Mississippi County. All but 15 customers in Illinois have been restored.

Glen Cantrell, communication manager for SEMO Electric Cooperative, estimated that 9,000 customers were without power at 4:10 p.m. Sunday.

"We’ve made some strides today. Now it’s just every little day, we’re going to see some victories here and there," he said. "Right now it’s reconstructing all the damage that’s been done."

While the warmer weather is melting the remaining ice and snow, Cantrell said it is causing a muddy mess for workers.

"Our challenge right now is mud and slush, making it kinda difficult for us to get around," he said.

Black River Electric Cooperative reported no power outages, but marketing and safety manager John Singleton said the company loaned out 16 workers and off-road equipment Friday to help with repairs.

A series of concerns, from carbon monoxide poisoning to consumer fraud, remain.

Those without power using propane and kerosene to heat their homes are at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. In Scott County, candles and other fire sources are suspected as the cause of several structure fires, according to a statement issued Sunday afternoon by Scott County Emergency management Director Joel Evans.

He said most roads are at least passable, but "at least 10 agricultural structures collapsed over the county."

Black River Electric Cooperative has been dealing with structure collapse also.

"We’ve had several cases of buildings collapse due to the weight of the sleet and ice and snow," Singleton said.

Emergency managers are asking people to check on their neighbors.

In Scott County, shelter and meals remain available at the Miner Baptist Church and Sikeston Fieldhouse.

While the power grid is being repaired by the companies that operate them, people with damaged electrical connections to their homes encouraged to have it repaired by private contractor, so that when power companies are able to reach their location, their power can be restored.

Sikeston City Manager Doug Friend agreed to waive all permit fees associated with these repairs to speed this process. However, a city inspection is required to ensure the service entrances are properly installed before city power is reconnected to any building.

Rumors of FEMA reimbursing for generators and chainsaws for individuals are false, according to county emergency managers. People are responsible for those costs.

In Scott County, bottled water is available in limited amounts from the Red Cross shelter at Miner Baptist Church. For those without water who are unable to travel, supplies should be delivered by Sunday afternoon to: Dielstadt Baptist Church, Blodgett Baptist Church, Commerce Methodist Church, Haywood City Community Center, New Hamburg Parish Center, Morley City Hall, Unity Baptist Church, Vanduser Cote, Oran Fire Department, Perkins Fire Department, Chaffee Fire Department and Salcedo Baptist Church.

According to Evans, an estimated 35 percent of Scott County residents have some power restored.

Sikeston’s Public Works’ compost site on Compress Road is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily until further notice City officials are asking resident to keep tree limbs and other debris out of the streets; they may be stacked near the backside of the curb. Residents may burn anything that grows on their properties, but the fires must be limited to limbs smaller than 2 inches in diameter and the fires must be attended at all times. Sikeston Public Safety officials require a water source and a yard tool (rake or shovel) nearby. Contractors are forbidden from burning on clients’ properties, according to a city statement issued Sunday.

Sikeston Department of Public Safety is asking anyone with a complaint against a business to call the Consumer Protection hotline at 1-800-392-8222. 

For more on this story, revisit www.semissourian.com or read Monday's print edition.

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