As of early Friday afternoon, about 5,000 residents in St. Clair County and Madison County were still without power following severe storms that swept through the area early Thursday morning.
Brian Bretsch, public and media relations manager for Ameren Illinois, said 2,100 St. Clair County residents were without power while 2,900 Madison County residents remained without power.
At the 8 a.m. rush hour Friday, those numbers were 2,400 for St. Clair County and 7,500 for Madison County.
Bretsch did not know when power would be fully restored, but crews would be working around the clock.
“We’ve got downed wires, broken equipment on the electrical ballot boxes…that’s all going to have to be replaced,” Bretsch said. “Crews and contractor teams will work overnight, if necessary, to restore power safely.”
Power was restored to some areas regularly throughout the day. Bretsch said outages should be corrected with increased speed throughout the day.
“In some areas we are still assessing the damage,” Bretsch said. “Then we need to bring in a tree trimming crew to clear the area and before the crews and be able to go in there and work. The hardest part of the storm is making the assessment. All available boots have been on the ground since 7am
“The numbers are going down. You’ll start to see those numbers drop even further after lunch when teams get work orders and can actually start restoring once all the assessments are done.
Ameren activated their emergency operations center at 6:30 a.m. this morning to assess the damage and determine what additional help they needed – such as tree trimmers and linemen – in the restoration effort. Bretsch also said he brought in teams from Ameren Missouri and Ameren Illinois in Washington and Peoria, as well as outside teams representing other utilities in Ohio and West Virginia.
He added that they mainly deal with pocket failures.
“Meaning, it’s not as simple as rerouting from one substation to another to bring in thousands of people,” Bretsch said. “The wind and some lightning caused branches and limbs to fall. I can tell you that we have an additional 100 tree trimmers assisting in the restoration effort and an additional 85 on call. It was 9am and I’m guessing those 85 people are either traveling here or are already engaged in the restoration efforts.
Ameren offered the following advice in a press release:
- Individual outage recovery status information will be provided directly to customers who report their outage to Ameren Illinois.
- Ameren Illinois customers without power should call 1-800-755-5000 to report an outage, log into the AmerenIllinois.com website, or report their outage using the mobile phone app. Customers who report their outage can sign up for outage alerts to receive restore updates via text or email. Learn more at Ameren.com/alerts.
- Real-time outage information is available on the outage map at AmerenIllinois.com/outagemap.
- Customers can receive timely updates on outage restoration by following the Ameren Illinois newsfeed on Facebook or on twitter.com/AmerenIllinois.
Madison County damages
Mary Kate Brown, Madison County’s acting director of emergency management, said her agency had not received any reports of major damage as of early Friday afternoon.
“I actually did a little lookout this morning and mostly saw downed tree branches,” she said. “No major damage to the commercial or residential structure was reported. The biggest thing that happened was tree damage that caused some power lines to be cut and high winds affected electricity for residents.
St. Clair County damages
In St. Clair County, Hal Leventhal, owner of Bicycle World in Belleville, told the News-Democrat that one of the panels on their roof had been knocked over and twisted.
However, St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency Director Herb Simmons said Friday afternoon that his agency had heard of no major damage in the county.
Hospitals without electricity
SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Centralia has power and sees patients, but other hospitals do not.
The following areas for SSM Health are dead and phone lines are not working. They are working closely with Ameren on timelines and will continue to have updates.
I still see patients without electricity, but without a laboratory at the moment:
- SSM Health Express Clinic—Centralia
- SSM Health Primary Care — Centralia
- SSM Health Primary Care — Benton
- SSM Health medical offices at 1050 and 1054 – MLK Jr. Drive, Centralia
Currently not seeing patients:
- SSM Health Physiotherapy – on Broadway in Centralia
- SSM Health Center Angela
Bretsch said “critical facilities”/Tier 1 facilities such as hospitals have top priority during power outages.
“In a community like Centralia, we’re asking for additional resources,” Bretsch said Friday afternoon. “Actually, we probably have someone on the pitch talking to them constantly.”
However, he added: “It will be quite late tomorrow night before the power is restored.”
Patients with questions about appointments can call the hospital switchboard at 618-436-8080.