With thousands still without power Wednesday morning following a winter storm that dumped close to a foot of snow in parts of the area, two shelters have been opened in Versailles to offer people a warm place to stay.
Three people stayed at one of the shelters Tuesday night, according to Morgan County Emergency Management Director Rick Bias. More may be in need Wednesday night, however, as outages continue.
People must register with the county to stay at one of the shelters. Call emergency management at 378-2453 to see about staying. People must also bring their own toiletries, blankets and pillows.
Around 7,500 homes in Morgan County were still without power Wednesday morning, according to Bias, and the county road department is still working to clear roadways.
The goal for Wednesday was to try to get at least one pass at every county road by the end of the day, he said. In the meantime, emergency crews are responding to incidents as quickly as possible.
In the greater region, which includes Morgan County, about 10,750 Co-Mo Electric members remained without power Wednesday morning, down from a peak of 13,800, as crews continued restoration efforts.
Late Tuesday night, crews from Co-Mo and nearby assisting electric cooperatives restored power to several major sections of line.
"We expect to have a very productive day today and restore power to a lot of our members. Our goal is roughly half of those currently out, if everything goes well," said Ken Johnson, the cooperative's CEO and General Manager. "That said, the damage from this storm is so widespread that we do not believe we'll have service to restored to all our members by the end of the night."
Johnson said all members currently without power should plan to be without electricity for a longer period of time.
Damage is widespread across Co-Mo's entire 2,300-square-mile service territory. Co-Mo's 23 crews are being assisted by crews from Laclede, Se-Ma-No and Webster electric cooperatives and Kiowa Line Builders. Two specialized track vehicles have been brought in to reach hard-to-access locations.
"We're also expecting eight more crews from New Mac, Ozark Border and North Central electric cooperatives to be routed to us today now that their work helping other cooperatives is done," Johnson said.
The restoration effort is being assisted by technology Co-Mo members have helped the cooperative invest in throughout the past decade. The leading piece of technology is the Outage Management System, which allows the cooperative's Operations personnel to know about outages before a member even calls.
"The huge volume of calls Tuesday really backed up our phone system and made it hard to get through. That's tough for members who want to make sure their outage is logged," Johnson said. "The good news is that in just about every single situation, we know about an outage before a member calls."
If members have a pole or downed wire at their location, Johnson said members should call or e-mail email@example.com.
Crews returning to the field are using the typical method of restoring power in a large-scale outage. The focus first is on the largest outages, especially those on what's called "feeders."
"A feeder takes power from the substation. If a feeder is out, no matter what you fix down the line, you're not going to restore power to any of the members," said Senior Service Planning Technician Brian Hunsburger, who has been taking a lead role in the restoration efforts from the office. "So that's where we go first – to fix the feeders."
Large feeder restoration efforts were successful late Tuesday night in Ivy Bend and other locations. Feeders are still out in Prairie Home and Pilot Grove, and those will be a focus this morning.
Once those feeder restorations are complete, crews look at the largest outages along line sections. As of 7:30 a.m. Wednesday those were in Pilot Grove, California, Versailles, Stover and Gravois Mills.
Crews then work in a way that makes geographic sense — using the Automated Vehicle Locator system – to restore the smaller outages until everyone's power is back on. Johnson said that could take awhile.
"We have a lot of smaller outages over a wide geographic area," he said. "We will get everyone's power on, and we appreciate everyone's patience. Our linemen want nothing more than to get our members' power restored."
As of 9 a.m., Wednesday, customer outages for Ameren Missouri customers in the region were below 1,500, down from a peak of 13,257 Tuesday afternoon.
"We expect to have the vast majority of remaining customer power outages restored by late afternoon today," says Michael Moehn, senior vice president of Customer Operations. "While we are working aggressively to restore power quickly, we want our co-workers to take the time to focus on safety in the hazardous weather and travel conditions we are experiencing."
Additional storm safety information is available at the Ameren Missouri Outage Center at AmerenMissouri.com.