ARNOLD, Mo. – Ameren Missouri crews are working hard to restore power to customers more than 24 hours after a “hurricane-like” storm system hit the region Monday night.
Nearly 140,000 Ameren customers were left without power in Missouri and Illinois after the storms. The outage peak in Missouri alone was about 78,000 customers.
When the power is cut in the middle of a St. Louis summer, it becomes unbearable inside homes.
In Arnold, the loss of power touched many people’s lives.
“I think it’s very miserable,” said Penny Milton, who lost power to her home. “I’m not comfortable at all.”
People sat outside to keep cool, hoping they didn’t lose the groceries inside their refrigerators.
“My regular ice box went out a month ago and I lost everything and I don’t want to go through that again,” said homeowner Sharon Derickson.
Sump pumps stopped pumping and heavy rains backed up into basements.
An Ameren Missouri official reported great progress in restoring power to the St. Louis area but added crews would still be restoring electricity on Wednesday.
“It will go into (Wednesday) as we sit here and talk; customers are being restored every hour,” said Patrick Smith, Ameren Missouri’s vice president of division operations.
Smith urged customers to sign up for text updates on outage and billing information by texting “REG” to 81365. He also urged people to call 800-552-7583 to report issues like downed power lines.
Businesses in Arnold were closed all day Tuesday. Restaurant owners could not open their doors without electricity.
When stop lights stopped working, traffic jammed.
“It would be devastating. I don’t know what we do,” said Phil Amato, board president of the Arnold Food Pantry.
Amato said the pantry has 26 freezers full of meat. When Mercy Hospital came to town, they started a foundation. The food pantry applied for a $20,000 grant to buy this generator. It saved the day for the 300 families the pantry serves each week.
“I don’t know what we’d do. They’re full of meat and if we lost them, I don’t know what we do,” he said. “It’s got to be worth $50,000; $100,000 worth of meat, I would think.”
Ameren Missouri said 830 workers are going round the clock and another 125 that were dispatched to the East Coast after the recent hurricane have been called back here.