NEWS

Missouri governor assesses ice storm damage

Charis Patires

Several lake area communities including Eldon have quite a way to go until things return to normal after a winter storm brought down trees, knocked out power and left thousands of residents without electricity.

Several hundred workers were on site attempting to restore service in the Eldon community, the hardest hit area of Miller County. Ice-covered limbs and power lines littered roadways and smashed into homes and vehicles throughout the community.

AmerenUE spokesman Mike Cleary said nearly 22,000 customers in Eldon, Versailles and Jefferson City, Mo., were in the dark Monday, and while workers are doing their best to restore power, it is difficult to make any headway. In some areas where electricity was returned to homes, it was back out again hours later.

Cleary said more than 200 workers were brought in with about 300 more expected to arrive today. A storm trailer was also set up in town to give workers access to equipment in order to make repairs as quickly as possible, he said.

Residents were seen out in their yards trying to pick up debris, and crews were making progress clearing away blocked roads.

Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt made an unexpected visit Monday to Eldon to assess the damage. He stopped by city hall to visit with officials and was expected to make a trip to the local shelter but did not show up when the power went out.

The local Red Cross chapter welcomed those seeking refuge at the Eldon Community Center. More than 200 people stayed at the shelter Sunday night. Volunteers expect many more to come through the doors if conditions stay the same for the next couple of days.

In Morgan County, emergency management director Rick Bias said a steady stream of people was visiting the shelter at the Justice Center to keep warm. Nearly 800 homes were without power in Versailles, he said.

There were a few injuries reported due to the weather. One person had to be rescued after he was trapped when he tried to cut down damaged tree limbs, Bias said.

The Camden County Sheriff’s Department reported no major problems with the exception of lost power in the Climax Springs and Coffman Bend area. A shelter that had been opened Sunday in Sunrise Beach was closed several hours later after no one showed up.

It was business as usual for a number of other communities across the lake who were not as impacted by the ice. For those still trying to recover, warmer temperatures are expected to set in later this week. Officials are hoping it will offer a reprieve.

According to National Weather Service Meteorologist Doug Cramer, the lake area could see more freezing rain but it looks unlikely.

The freezing line is expected to stay north with precipitation continuing through Wednesday night or Thursday morning, Cramer said.

Volunteers plan to keep the Eldon Community Center and Morgan County Justice Center open until the shelters are no longer needed.

People who are experiencing problems should contact their local law enforcement agency for assistance. For statewide shelter information call 1-888-377-2100.

Contact this reporter at charisp@lakesunleader.com