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Thursday morning storm damage in Sparta, Illinois

SPARTA, Ill. - Storms rolled through southern Illinois Thursday morning, leaving thousands without power.

Dozens of trees and power lines were felled in the town of Sparta. A large tree fell onto a home in the 300 block of Mound Street. The homeowner was inside the residence when the tree came crashing down and made it out of the home safely. Now the clean up begins.

At one point, the Ameren Illinois outage map showed outages in Sparta, Marissa, and Carbondale. When the severe storm ripped through southern Illinois there were reports of winds up to 60 miles per hour. The company activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to coordinate power restoration efforts.

As of 2 p.m., approximately 13,000 customers were without power, primarily in the following counties: Clay, Crawford, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Marion, Perry, Randolph, and Richland.

Ameren Illinois crews and contractors have been placed on alert in anticipation of more severe weather throughout the day. The EOC is staffed around-the-clock to coordinate service restoration, logistical support, and communications.

“Our first priority is the safety of our crews and our customers," said Ron Pate, senior vice president of Operations and Technical Services, Ameren Illinois. “Restoration will focus on repairing large transmission lines, followed by the distribution lines and feeder circuits that bring power to neighborhoods and homes. We can assure our customers that we will work as quickly and safely as possible to get their power back on."

Customer safety reminders

The measures customers should take to prepare for a power outage or loss of natural gas service are similar to those needed to prepare for any emergency situation.

  • Call Ameren Illinois at 1-800-755-5000 as soon as possible to report a downed line, natural gas odor, or an outage.
  • Residents are reminded to stay away from downed power lines because these lines may still be energized. During an outage, individuals are asked to stay indoors after sunset because downed lines may not be visible. Stay away from brush, shrubs and fallen trees that may be hiding these lines.
  • Detailed safety and outage information is available at outagemap.ameren.com.
  • Sign up for outage alerts and we will text or e-mail restoration updates after you report an outage. Learn more at Ameren.com/alerts.
  • If your electric service is interrupted, be sure to unplug or protect sensitive computer and electronic equipment with a high-quality surge protector.
  • When severe weather is predicted, make certain your cell phone is fully charged. Also, remember that cordless landline telephones will not function in the event of a power outage.

In addition to the safety and outage information available at outagemap.ameren.com, customers and media can receive timely updates on outage restoration by following the Ameren Illinois at twitter.com/AmerenIllinois and Facebook.com/AmerenIllinois.