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High winds cause more power outages in area

Monday, February 18, 2008

SIKESTON -- Before utility crews could restore the few remaining power outages Sunday, Mother Nature threw another curve ball at them -- strong winds peaking at nearly 50 mph.

The winds blew hanging tree limbs onto wires and caused more outages across the region. Several Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois counties were under wind advisories through the afternoon. The area experienced wind gusts exceeding 40 mph and more than 55 mph on hilltops and other elevated areas.

"It has definitely slowed us down," said Reuben Jeane, general manager of SEMO Electric Cooperative.

Jeane said Sunday that the wind had knocked out power to almost 200 people and that the strong gusts were "finishing up" the damage the ice storm had started.

He said most of the problems happened in the Bloomfield area northeast to Scott City. Crews also had to shut some lines down momentarily in order to take up slack on the lines so they would stop swinging into each other in the wind, Jeane said. The lines bumping together can trip the breaker and cause an outage. Those outages only lasted about 15 minutes each, he said, and were for safety reasons.

"With winds like this, we can't work it with it energized," Jeane said.

SEMO Electric Cooperative crews wrapped up the final few remaining outages at about 10:45 p.m. Sunday. Now crews have moved into the clean-up phase following last week's worst ice storm to hit the area in 30 years.

"We know that this has been a trying time for our members," said Glen Cantrell, communications manager for SEMO Electric Cooperative. "We want to thank them for their patience."

Cantrell says not only were many of the members patient, but they were helpful, too.

"We had some members bring food or coffee out to our crews when they saw them out working. We even had some of our members who are farmers help pull our trucks out of the mud," Cantrell said.

Cantrell says crews will now focus on cleaning up debris, tree limbs or even trimming the trees away from power lines.

"This was an enduring time for our members, but also for our entire staff. Lineman, dispatchers and supervisors worked many hours over the past week," Cantrell said. "Even the office staff was working 24 hours a day as they took phone calls from members."

Representatives for AmerenUE were unavailable for comment at press time.


Information for this story was provided by staff reports and SEMO News Service.