SIKESTON -- Mild temperatures over the weekend, which reached 50 degrees on Sunday, helped to speed up power restoration.
As of this morning about 40 percent of the Sikeston Board of Municipal Utilities customers had power restored. That's up from approximately 30 percent on Saturday, when all the substations were energized, according to BMU staff.
There are several issues related to power restoration, however.
According to a news release from Sgt. Jim McMillen, public information officer for the Sikeston Department of Public Safety, some homeowners may need to have repairs done before power can be restored to their homes.
"Homeowners may be financially responsible for some repairs themselves, depending on the type of damage at your home," he said. "It was discovered the ice storm damaged electrical service entrances to some homes in the city. In these instances, falling limbs and heavy ice pulled these services away from the home."
Repairs to damaged electrical service entrances must be performed by a private electrical contractor, not BMU.
"It is imperative homeowners see that these repairs are completed as soon as possible so they can be reconnected to the city grid," said McMillen.
All permit fees associated with the repairs have been waived by Doug Friend, city manager, to help speed the process. However, a city inspection is required to ensure service entrances are properly installed before city power is reconnected to any building.
McMillen also warned against possible fraud. "Apparently, some of these tree trimming operators are telling residents BMU will not restore their power if their property isn't cleared of debris," he said, noting the trimmers were charged an excessive amount of money. "BMU will trim trees or remove debris around their power lines so that power can be restored."
When hiring trimmers, McMillen urged people to check credentials and obtain as much identifying information about the contractor as possible. "Police will need this information in the event you become a victim of fraud," he said.
As power restoration continues, McMillen reminded the system is still delicate. There are things all can do -- even those with electricity -- to help speed the process.
Those without power should make sure all circuit breakers are in the off position. "The system will experience a tremendous load when BMU attempts to reestablish power in an area. If the circuit breakers are left in the ON position this additional load may cause another failure," he said. "It will be more likely power can be restored to your area if most everyone has their circuit breakers in the OFF position. You may then turn you circuit breakers to the ON position, one at a time, once electrical power has been restored."
Anyone with power is asked to conserve their energy. "At this point in time, BMU recommends to use only what is necessary," said McMillen. "BMU is trying to bring the system back up, area by area. Poor conservation of energy to an already weakened system, can cause additional failures and lead to another blackout in your neighborhood."
Officials also continue to warn of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, as Sikeston's Emergency Operational Command continues to receive reports of these issues around the city.
"This is a very serious issue and could cause death to everyone in the home," warned McMillen.
He again reminded people to make sure that if they are using a gas generator, it is not run in an enclosed area, as that builds up the carbon monoxide in the air.
"Using propane or kerosene heaters not approved for indoor use can also be a serious health concern," said McMillen. "These types of heat sources emit carbon monoxide and reduce oxygen levels in the home. Simply stated, you may go to sleep and not wake up."
Anyone using those alternate heat sources is highly encouraged to install a carbon monoxide detector in their home.