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Wild weather wrecks roads, downs many power lines Friday morning
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (May 8, 2009) — Wild winds knocked down trees and power lines at numerous locations around Pulaski County, but the county appears to have missed the tornados that prompted Thursday morning tornado warnings in Laclede County, southern Pulaski County, and northern Texas County.

As of 11:40 a.m., Waynesville Rural Fire Chief Doug Yurecko reported that downed utility lines had forced firefighters to close Highway 28 about a quarter-mile north of the Road Ranger truck stop.

“Highway 28 is blocked off, but traffic is continuing to flow,” Yurecko said. “We’ve got a side road open.”

Yurecko said he’s waiting for the arrival of a repair crew from the Embarq telephone company.

“Once they get a bucket truck out here they’ll be able to get it open pretty quick,” Yurecko said.

Initial reports indicate major road damage in the Laquey area. According to Hazelgreen firefighters, a large culvert has been washed out on Sherwood Road off Highway AA near the Laquey school, blocking the road.

It’s not yet clear how many people have been cut off by the washed-out road, but a housing complex is down Sherwood Road and school officials have been notified of the problem since a bus route uses Sherwood Road.

Three fire crews are out in the Hazelgreen Rural Fire Protection District checking roads.

Western District Road Supervisor Steve Street said as of noon, a road grader is on its way to Sherwood Road to assess the situation.

“Where we were hardest hit was the Laquey area,” Street said. “We have some damage around the Crocker area, mostly trees down around the roads, but we’ve got crews checking to see what’s happened.”

Western District Commissioner Bill Farnham said damage was less serious in the eastern district, but he hasn’t yet received a report from the Big Piney area, which was in the path of one of the tornadic storms.

“We know some of our low-water areas have washed out and they need to have the backhoe brought in,” Farnham said. “I know there are a lot of areas that got hit a lot worse than us.”

Richland City Administrator Anita Ivey said reports of a downed power pole near Richland Memorial Chapel and Richland High School are incorrect.

“We have fuses blown and are getting a tree out of a power line, but no, we do not have a power pole down,” Ivey said.

Scattered power outages and downed power lines are affecting the entire region, with 8,600 of Laclede Electric Cooperative’s 35,000 customers losing power.

Laclede Electric spokesman Byron Dudley said most of those customers are west of Pulaski County in Laclede and Wright counties, but four of the Laclede Electric substations on Fort Leonard Wood were damaged, some with damage to multiple feeders.

Laclede Electric doesn’t handle the electric meters on the post although it provides the main power service. A Fort Leonard Wood spokesperson said department of public works personnel were working with Laclede Electric to identify affected buildings, but no numbers were immediately available of residences, offices and other affected facilities.

Dudley emphasized that people should not approach a downed power line.

“There is absolutely no way for a customer to know if that line is still energized or not. They need to stay away and treat every power line as if there is still electricity flowing through it,” Dudley said.

Laclede Electric customers should call (800) 299-3164 to report a downed power line. Waynesville, St. Robert and Richland residents within the city limits should call their city hall or utility department. Rural customers north of the Gasconade River, including residents of the cities of Crocker and Dixon, are generally served by Gascosage Electric and should call that electric cooperative for service.

Waynesville, Crocker and Dixon city officials report no damage in those cities, and that’s also the case for St. Robert despite a brief power outage.

“Due to the diligence of our police department, fire department and public works, there is no damage to report,” said St. Robert City Administrator Alan Clark.

Since the Pulaski County Courthouse is closed for the Truman Day holiday, county road crews have requested that anyone with a report of road damage or of trees blocking roads should call the eastern and western district road sheds directly.

The Western District road shed in Crocker can be reached at (573) 736-5622. The Eastern District road shed just east of St. Robert can be reached at (573) 336-4066.

Farnham emphasized that people who find water on a road need to stop and turn around, even if road crews haven’t yet blocked it off.

“Superior Road washes out every time we get a big one and Texas Road, even though we have worked on it, it is still in the flood zone, and all the water from St. Robert comes rushing down into it,” Farnham said. “We have put out signs saying the roads are impassable, and people need to obey them. Don’t drive into water.”

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