SIKESTON -- As ice melted, power was restored to most of the region Thursday, and utility crews are hoping to repair the remaining outages today.
Three crews from Dunklin-Pemiscot Cooperative joined SEMO Electric Cooperative and eight crews from outside the area today to continue the work to restore power to 1,800 members.
Crews worked Thursday to restore power to the main lines which brought electricity back to many of its members. Bloomfield and Bell City, two of the hardest hit areas, had most of their power restored. Advance and areas near Jackson, continue to be worked on to restore electricity to those members today. At one point, nearly 8,000 members were without power.
"Thursday was a very frustrating day for our crews," said Glen Cantrell, communications manager for SEMO Electric. "It just seemed like we would take three steps forward and then two steps back."
Cantrell said that as soon as crews would repair lines, another line would go down.
"Either ice would fall off the lines, making them sway into each other or a tree would pop up and hit our lines after the ice would melt away from the trees," Cantrell said.
Nineteen crews headed out today to finish work on the main lines and then hit the individual homes. Many have been without power since Monday, but Thursday brought a new round of members without power.
"Just as our crews were making headway, we started having new outages in areas that had not lost electricity all week," Cantrell said.
AmerenUE officials said it expected to restore service today to all of the remaining customers who lost power due to the severe ice storm. Amren UE customers who are still out of power should call 1-800-552-7583.
As of 10 a.m. Thursday, about 3,000 Ameren UE customers were still without service -- mainly in the northern and western parts of the Cape Girardeau area. At the peak of the storm, more than 15,000 customers were without power in an area extending roughly from Dexter through Cape Girardeau to around Charleston.
AmerenUE has about 1,100 employees, contractors and personnel from neighboring utilities working on power restoration throughout the area, including lineworkers, tree-trimmers, field checkers, dispatchers, troublemen and others from all over the state.
"With these extensive resources, along with improved weather, we expect to make good progress," says Jean Mason, manager of AmerenUE's SEMO Division. "However, due to difficult terrain and the extreme amount of damage in certain areas, it may be Friday before we get everybody back on."
Mason says three "storm trailers" stocked with materials needed to make repairs, along with a Mobile Command Center were used to help coordinate power restoration.
AmerenUE reminds customers that due to the ice storm's extensive damage to the electric service entrances at customers' homes, the services of an electrical contractor may be required to re-attach or repair customer-owned facilities, such as the meter base, weatherhead or point of attachment.
Any customer noticing damage to these facilities should call an electrical contractor to make repairs so utility workers can safely restore service. Not repairing this damage could delay restoration to the customer's home.
In addition, customers should stay away from downed power wires caused by the storm. Ameren companies are working closely with city and state officials and emergency response personnel to coordinate restoration efforts and ensure customer safety.
Cantrell also reminded members who have been without electricity they can seek help from the American Red Cross. To find out more about how the American Red Cross can help, members should call (573) 335-9471.
Information for this report was provided by staff reports and the SEMO News Service.