Tuesday, December 05, 2006

On the Home Front (at least for me)

195,000 still in the dark in Illinois and Missouri

ST. LOUIS, Missouri (AP) -- After spending three days at a shelter in a converted recreation center, Angela Luster hitched a ride with the National Guard to check on her apartment.

"It's terrible. You just had to uproot your life," said Luster, 28. "We have to live by other people's rules and regulations. It's difficult being around people you don't know."

People slept in shelters during their search for warm surroundings as the region entered a sixth day Tuesday of a blackout caused by the first storm of the winter season.

The Missouri National Guard was sent to the St. Louis area after Thursday's snow and ice storm to make sure people were surviving without electric light and heat.

The same was happening in neighboring Illinois, where Gov. Rod Blagojevich ordered National Guard troops to begin checking on Decatur-area residents Tuesday.

The St. Louis-based utility Ameren Corp. was reporting nearly 195,000 outages in Illinois and Missouri on its Web site early Tuesday. The bulk of the outages were in the St. Louis area.

The utility said it would be several more days before power is fully restored.

"We've had some ice storms before. This one puts them to shame," said Ron Zdellar, vice president of energy for AmerenUE, who has worked for the company for 35 years.

Utility crews were working 18-hour shifts, especially in the biggest problem areas, where ice coated roads and utility poles. Workers from 14 states were helping.

The storm also caused widespread power outages elsewhere as it blew snow and ice from Texas to Michigan last week and battered parts of the Northeast with thunderstorms and high winds.

The number of deaths blamed on the storm rose Monday to at least 23, with three more deaths reported in Missouri and one more in Illinois. The causes included weather-related traffic accidents, fires, carbon monoxide poisoning and exposure, officials said.

The combination of low temperatures, downed power lines, ice-covered poles and brittle tree limbs hampered repair efforts.

"We knew when this thing hit, it would be far different from anything we've seen before," Zdellar said.

After a run of temperatures in the teens, the St. Louis area got a break Monday afternoon with thermometers showing almost 40.

The National Weather Service did not forecast any additional snow or ice in the affected region, but high temperatures this week were expected to stay in the 30s and low 40s.

The thing this story doesn't mention is that this past summer, we had a major storm that knocked out power to the exact same areas. The problem then (and now) appears to be that AmerenUE is not trimming trees like they are supposed to, and the branches grow into power lines. Then when a storm comes or the branches get coated in ice like they did this past week, the branches knock down the power lines. Also, AmerenUE was supposed to update their power grids but hasn't in a long time, making it more difficult to restore power.

So that's what we're dealing with here in this area. Missouri Governor Matt Blunt (son of soon-to-be Minority Whip Rep. Roy Blunt) called up the National Guard and they're here helping out, which is good. But a lot of people are calling for some sort of investigation into AmerenUE--especially with the number of deaths that have been caused by this latest power outage.

4 comentarios:

Jade said...

Court, I've been watching this on the news and thinking about you! I remember the storm from this summer and how long some people went without electricity.

What bothers me is that stories in the midwest don't seem to get as much attention as say the fires in CA, or something that might happen on either coasts.

Although, CNN did show the Blunt press conference (*coughs: idiot*) and I didn't seem to feel his passion or concern for the situation...

Best of luck to you in STL!

marie said...

I hope you stay safe and warm Courtney!!

eliza said...

Courtney, I just remembered today that you were in this area too. I can't believe we're going through this again! I lucked out and never lost power, but it's still been craziness.

courtney01 said...

I actually never lost power, but wanted people to know about this because in my opinion, there's no excuse for people losing power in this kind of weather. People have died and something should be done about it.


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