(Updated @ 2:34 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28)
Utility companies are warning that it could be several days to a week before the almost 100,000 electric customers without service in Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois will have power restored.
residents could be waiting for more than a week before power is restored, according to electric companies.
(DDD Staff photo by Deanna Coronado)
Overall, Ameren had more than customers without power in Southeast Missouri and almost 7,000 in Southern Illinois. Other utilities also reported major outages.
Semo Electric Cooperative has about 14,000 customers over a six county region without power, including about about 25 percent of their Cape Girardeau County customers, 60 percent of Scott County customers, and 60 to 70 percent of Stoddard County customers, said Glen Cantrell, spokesman for SEMO Electric.
"We've got tons of power lines and poles down," Cantrell said.
The Ozark Border Electric Cooperative headquartered in Poplar Bluff reported 25,000 customers without power out of 37,000 served, and the Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative reported 7,000 customers hit.
"Along one highway, we have 15 electric poles in a row all on the ground," said Gerri Schaefer, director of communications for Southern Illinois.
Most of Sikeston's 9,000 customers served by the Board of Municipal Utilities are without power.
In many instances, entire towns were without power, with the worst hit areas mainly across the southern counties of Missouri and Illinois.
"Because of the severity of the damage and the amount of ice, customers could be out of power for five days or longer and should make the appropriate arrangements to protect their health, pets, homes and businesses, said Ameren spokesman Mike Cleary in a prepared statement.
Cleary said the damage to power lines caused by the storm was so widespread, it was difficult to assess.
Hundreds of wires and poles were felled by inch-thick ice in the area, and whole towns, such as Sikeston, have almost completely lost electricity.
"Ice storms are probably the worst kind of storms you can have-you get something fixed, and a new outage occurs," Cleary said.
AmerenUE more than tripled its restoration staffs in the past 24 hours, with a total of 1,400 linemen, field checkers, tree trimmers, supervisory and support staffers now in Southeast Missouri working to restore electricity to approximately 35,000 customers, Cleary said.
Several hundred linemen from multiple Midwestern and Southern utilities were called in to support restoration. Mobile trailers have been dispatched for lodging UE crews, and vendors from as far away as the Gulf Coast are supplying meals since local hotels, motels and restaurants are without power.
In some areas, the winter squall has hit the region harder than last February's ice storm, Cantrell said.
SEMO electric customers could be without power for a week or more, Cantrell said.
Both the Scott County Sheriff's Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol Headquarters are without power, relying on backup generators.
Sporadic power had been restored to a few residents in Sikeston, Mo., but the city was still largely dark, said Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter.
The 911 repeater iced up a few times during the night, but was functioning by Wednesday morning, Walter said.
At the Ozark Border offices, general manager Stanley Estes said "man, it's awful" when asked how his area was faring. The power transmission company supplying the cooperative lost five power substations, he said. "We have I don't know how many broken poles."
Areas to the north of Cape Girardeau fared very well in the storm. Jackson, hard hit by the Feb. 11, 2008, storm, reported no power outages. The same was true in the Black River Cooperative area in Bollinger County as well as the Citizens Electric Cooperative serving Perry, Cape Girardeau, St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve counties.
Utilities that are not reporting outages said they are sending crews and equipment to help the hard-hit areas.
For more information, check back at semissourian.com or read Thursday's Southeast Missourian.
Train derails in Scott City, no one hurt
Number of Ameren customers without power tops 35,000 in Southeast Missouri
Sleet, ice cover Cape and surrounding areas
Missouri road conditions
National Weather Service Cape Girardeau forecast
National Weather Service radar loop
Towns without power
The worst areas for power outages are the counties across the southern border of Missouri and the southern tip of Illinois. Based on the zip code listing from AmerenUE, the towns where all or virtually all the customers are without power include the following cities. Electric cooperatives serving rural areas around these towns also report severe outages.
In Southern Illinois: