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Thousands lose power, face washed-out roads following recent storms
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (June 16, 2009) — A series of storms have been pounding Pulaski County since last week, creating major problems for road crews and electric companies. Hundreds of electricity customers are still without power in Waynesville and about 2,100 customers in rural areas east of St. Robert lost power late Tuesday afternoon, and many city and county roads are impassible or barely driveable, according to local officials.

Laclede Electric Cooperative spokesman Byron Dudley said his company thought until Tuesday afternoon that most of the problems were under control, but that changed when a major electric feeder line and substation in the Hooker area from Sho-Me Power, the cooperative’s wholesale power supplier, went out about 5:15 p.m.

That outage affects the Hickory Valley subdivision that’s partly within the St. Robert city limits, and runs north along Highway 28 to Gasconade River to Devil’s Elbow, and then along the south side of Interstate 44 and Highway Z and Teak Lane to CR 1729 in Phelps County.

“The storms that blew in overnight hit our system about 1 a.m. and at the peak of the storm we had about 2,500 customers without power. By the afternoon, we reduced that to the point that we had only a few individuals left,” Dudley said. “Unfortunately about 5:15 p.m. our power supplier lost power to one of the substations ... Right now, Show-Me is looking into the cause of the outage and they have crews on their way. We expect that this outage could go well into the evening.”

It’s not clear what caused the problem, Dudley said.

“At this point we don’t have a whole lot of information as we are waiting for them to diagnose the problems,” Dudley said.

While many customers lost power for brief periods, the worst continuing outages appear to be in Waynesville, where city officials say residents on nine streets still have no electrical service. Power crews have been doing emergency trimming of trees and say most of the damage was caused by tree limbs falling on power lines. However, two electric poles were knocked down by the storm and as of late Tuesday afternoon, only one had been replaced.

The major continuing power outages are on Saunders, J.C. Avenue, Wildwood, Collier, Stoneridge, Westwind, Oakridge, and Long Drive, as well as the Brookview Apartments.

Dyer Road is also closed, Waynesville officials said, and the Old H Highway low-water bridge, which routinely floods during heavy rains, has been closed off-and-on for much of the last week.

Road damage is much worse in outlying areas of Pulaski County, even where power outages haven’t been a problem.

A report of damage wasn’t immediately available from the western district, but in the eastern district, a large 2.5-foot culvert collapsed Tuesday afternoon on the 17900 block of Cliff Road near Dixon. Lexington and Laramie roads were closed by high water and many of the side roads off the water-damaged Texas Road area have been badly damaged.

Initial reports indicate that rising water has covered parts of Superior Road making it no longer safe for traffic.

Until the late afternoon outage, most of Pulaski County outside the city of Waynesville didn’t lose electric service or was out for only brief periods. St. Robert city officials reported that power was restored to nearly all customers shortly after Monday’s storm ended. Gascosage Electric Cooperative personnel reported Tuesday afternoon that only one customer was without power.

While the most recent outage in Laclede Electric’s territory probably isn’t due to snapped power lines, high winds have knocked out numerous electrical lines or dropped them onto roadways or back yards. Dudley cautioned that those lines can be dangerous or even deady.

“Anytime that there are downed power lines, everybody has to assume that they are still energized because there is no way the average person can know,” Dudley said. “They need to treat every power line as if it’s energized, keep everyone away, and notify us as soon as possible.”

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