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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Wind storm much like February ice storm

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Darius Washington, right, helps another Sikeston resident unload a truckload of downed tree limbs from Sunday's storm winds at the city's compost site on Compress Road Monday behind the fire station on North West.
(Photos by Scott Welton, Staff)
SIKESTON -- As Southeast Missouri residents continue today to clean up debris from Sunday's wind storm and several homes and businesses remain without power, many can't help but find similarities between the remnants of Hurricane Ike and the ice storm that hit the region seven months ago.

"This wind storm reminds us a lot of the ice storm in February," said Glen Cantrell, communications manager for SEMO Electric Cooperative in Sikeston. "A lot of the time when there are power outages, it's isolated. In February and with this windstorm, the outages are widespread."

As of 4 p.m. Monday between 400 and 500 Semo Electric Cooperative customers remained without power, By early today, there were less than 150 meters still without power, he said.

Winds brought down everything from limbs to entire trees like this one on Kathleen.
"Our original count was really 9,200 people without power. The bulk of that was because of our three substations that were off. Once we fixed the substations, that took the count to 3,000, which was what we initially said," Cantrell said.

Outages range from north of Jackson to south of New Madrid and Kewanee and from Bloomfield to the Mississippi River, Cantrell said.

Cantrell said it's hard to say when the remaining meters without power will be fixed.

"Any electric company wants to get as many people back on with power in the quickest amount of time. We do the bulk of the power outages first. A line outage affects many people, and so once all of the line outages are fixed then workers move to individual outages," Cantrell explained.

As of 4 p.m. Monday, the following number of Ameren UE customers were still without power: 1,100 in Charleston, 900 in Anniston/East Prairie, 445 in Portageville, 85 in Sikeston, 100 in Morehouse and 100 in Marston, according to Ameren UE.

Half of the more than 30,000 affected customers living outside St. Louis City and County have been restored to power, an Ameren UE press release said late Monday. Most of these customers who are still out of power are in Southeast Missouri with Scott and Cape Girardeau counties among the hardest hit.

According to a new release from Ameren UE, the most damaged areas of Charleston and East Prairie are slated for restoration on Thursday. More than 100 additional workers were expected Monday night and roughly 260 expected today to assist in the power restoration efforts by the company in Southeast Missouri.

Classes at Charleston schools were canceled again today due to power outages. While no injuries were reported following the storm, tree and limb debris have created obstacles for the residents of Charleston.

"At the moment, electricity has been restored to much of the city. Power is still out at the elementary and middle school. Other power outage areas include our former armory, which is the public works facility now," said Charleston City Manager Dan Gruen.

Many streets in Charleston were blocked following Sunday's storm, Gruen said. The Southeast Correctional Center even operated off generators for a little while on Sunday but was running normally by Monday.

"On Sunday, what we did as a city was push all of the debris -- which was a lot of it -- from the roads. We wanted to clear everything to make sure vehicles could pass through and respond to any emergency," Gruen said.

On Monday, clean up efforts continued and will throughout the week, Gruen said.

"We have an extensive path throughout the city to move most of the debris to the compost site where we're burning it. ... We'll keep burning it and moving it," Gruen said.

Gruen said Charleston residents are asked to cut up limbs in trees in lengths of eight to 10 feet and push them to the side of the street for city personnel to pick up. These lengths make it easier for city workers to pick up the debris with a back hoe, Gruen explained.

"Other park improvements or special projects slated for this week will be put on hold until we get a handle on this problem," Gruen said. "(Compared to other towns and cities,) we're pretty lucky."

New Madrid County's Portageville was another town hit hard by the remains of Hurricane Ike.

Nonnie Laux, a dispatcher for the Portageville Police Department, said several residents have been without power since around 6 a.m. Sunday.

"On Sunday, tin and awning were flying down the street," Laux said. "Our park looks like a war zone. I went home (from work) after it calmed down, and it got our gazebo. There was a lot of roof damage throughout town.

Laux said the city's main concern has been to keep the sewage and water plants running.

"If the sewage plant isn't running, it could back up in our homes," Laux said.

Another concern has been the nursing homes, Laux said. Generators were needed to supply nursing home residents with oxygen, she said.

"It's been really busy," Laux said.

Wayne McSpadden, operations manager for Sikeston Board of Municipal Utilities, said there were still some outages in Sikeston Monday morning. Some outages were caused when about five poles broke on Ables Road, and other outages were due to limbs falling on the lines. He expected power to be restored Monday.

Just like in February, businesses selling outdoor power equipment were also busy when they opened their doors Monday morning.

Cindy Farrenburg, manager at Slusher Farm and Home, said when the Sikeston business opened at 7 a.m. Monday, workers were swamped with customers purchasing chainsaws as well as replacement parts such as blades and oil to run chainsaws. Generators are also hot items.

"We have even sent generators to Houston. We have very few generators left," Farrenburg said.

Meanwhile, Cantrell pointed out there are some obvious differences between the ice storm and wind storm.

An ice storm affects a region for several days, Cantrell said.

"You have the initial ice storm but then once ice starts melting, it imposes another danger. With this storm, that one storm came through. Now we can just clean up and fix everything and not have to worry about another day of something happening," Cantrell said.

And with this storm came cooler temperatures, Cantrell said.

" It's not extremely hot or extremely cold. In February, the danger was it was so cold," Cantrell said. "So if there is an 'up' to this storm, it's that it's not extreme temperatures."