Harrisburg, Ill. (Feb. 29, 2012) – Severe weather including a reported tornado left downed wires, broken utility poles and many customers without power Monday morning, creating safety hazards in portions of Southern Illinois.
Ameren Illinois officials issued a safety warning to all residents in the impacted areas to be on alert for downed electrical wires. Residents are warned to stay away from downed wires. Furthermore, stay away from brush, downed trees and limbs and any debris that may conceal downed power lines.
If you see a fallen or sagging wire, assume that it is still energized and dangerous. Electric power lines can carry power even after being knocked to the ground. Stay away and warn others to do the same. Call Ameren Illinois at 1-800-755-5000 to report downed wires.
Ameren Illinois has dispatched field personnel to assess damage and restore service as quickly as possible. Approximately 12,000 Southern Illinois customers were without electrical service at 8:00 a.m. today.
At this time, Ameren Illinois field personnel are patrolling the impacted areas to determine the extent of damage. In addition to broken utility poles and downed wires, there are downed tree limbs and trees, damaged buildings and debris as well as blocked streets in impacted areas. In addition, Ameren Illinois is assisting the Saline County Emergency conduct a search and rescue in Harrisburg.
Ameren Illinois is unable to provide estimated restoration times until the full extent of the damage to the distribution system is known.
The hardest hit areas include Saline County with 6,530 customers without service, Gallatin County with 2,460 customers, Pulaski County with 1,240 customers and Union County with1,260 customers.
Customers planning to use a portable generator must first open the main breaker or remove the main fuses before connecting the generator to the electrical systems. Failure to do this could seriously injure utility crews working on outside power lines, and/or it could cause damage to a neighbor's property or the customer's own equipment. Customers should never use a portable generator indoors, including in a home, garage, basement, shed or partially-enclosed area – even with ventilation because of the threat of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
Outage information is available at IllinoisOutage.com. Users can find outages listed by zip code and by county. The website also includes safety and weather information.
Those using mobile devices are invited to visit www.Ameren.Mobi for outage information. This site is specially designed for mobile devices.
Ameren Illinois delivers energy to 1.2 million electric and 813,000 natural gas customers in downstate Illinois, and our mission is to meet their energy needs in a safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally responsible manner. Our service area covers more than 1,200 communities and 43,700 square miles.