Utilities crews learned lessons from past ice storms - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Utilities crews learned lessons from past ice storms

Ice Storm '09 (Photo courtesy of SEMO Electric Cooperative) Ice Storm '09 (Photo courtesy of SEMO Electric Cooperative)
Ice Storm '09 (Photo courtesy of SEMO Electric Cooperative) Ice Storm '09 (Photo courtesy of SEMO Electric Cooperative)
Ice Storm '09 (Photo courtesy of SEMO Electric Cooperative) Ice Storm '09 (Photo courtesy of SEMO Electric Cooperative)
SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) -

If you've lived in the Heartland for a few years, you no doubt remember the paralyzing ice storms of 2008 and 2009, but are we ready should ice strike again?

The ice brought down power lines, poles and transformers leaving thousands without power for weeks.

“People were taking hammers to cars to get the ice off,” said Shelly Lesch of Delta. “The ice was so thick. Hot water wouldn’t work. The ice was two inches thick on cars.”

“We were without power for about a week,” said Lee Geary of Kennett.      

“It was a pretty tough time,” said Robyn Seals. “We really came to appreciate electricity.”

Utility crews learned a lot from that disaster, and vowed to be ready should it happen again.

 “What ice does is it just destroys,” said Glen Cantrell of the SEMO Electric Cooperative. “The line will come off, the pole will break the transformer comes off, the trees fall.”

Cantrell said the Ice Storm of ’09 took down so many lines the whole system, which serves 24,000 people in six counties, went dark.

“I would say that ’09 was probably the worst that anyone had seen,” said Cantrell. “We even had linemen who work a lot hurricanes who said they’d never seen anything as bad as this.”

The SEMO Electric Coop has since put in place plans and contingency plans should ice strike again.

“The planning is just about being ready – for whatever,” said Cantrell. “When the storm hits and I think our operations team have done such a great job of learning from those storms and preparing for the next one.”

Technology will also help tackle future outages.

Cantrell said the Coop is in the process of placing G.P.S. trackers on each pole and transformer in the system. That will allow Coop crews to quickly and easily track an outage to its cause.

“That’s much faster than our linemen going out and in the dark shining a flashlight trying to find out where the line is out,” said Cantrell.

While power companies and coops can prepare, Cantrell urges customers to get ready for ice too.

“So if you hear of an ice storm coming – consider: do you have food? Do you have water?  Charge your phone. Make sure you have a flashlight with batteries, make sure you have a radio with batteries,” Cantrell said. “Think about all the things you need to sustain life.”

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