COPY-Mo. counties hard-hit by storm also poorest

Associated Press - February 8, 2009 4:34 PM ET

KENNETT, Mo. (AP) - A late January ice storm that wiped out entire electric systems across a wide swath of southern Missouri hit some of the state's poorest counties.

That has raised questions about how utility officials will get the millions of dollars they estimate they'll need to virtually rebuild their entire networks.

Charles Crawford is general manager of Pemiscot-Dunklin Electric Cooperative, which serves the Missouri Bootheel counties of Dunklin, Pemiscot and New Madrid (MAD'-rid). They were the hardest hit.

He can't say where the money will come from, adding that it will be handled somehow.

Poplar Bluff-based M&A Electric Power Cooperative, says it will cost $80 million to rebuild its transmission infrastructure, and that customers will pay for it in the end, even if Missouri succeeds in getting federal disaster funds.

Throughout southern Missouri, about 17,000 people still remain without electricity. The high was 100,000.

All told, the storm affected southern Missouri customers of 5 electric cooperatives, St. Louis-based utility giant AmerenUE, and the municipal utilities of various small towns.

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