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Columbia, Boone County electric crews stock up for possible outages

Columbia, Boone County electric crews...

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Nearly 100 electric line workers in Boone County will handle power outages, as ice threatens the electric system throughout mid-Missouri.

Agencies across the state are preparing for a storm that could bring about an inch of ice by Saturday. Gov. Eric Greitens declared a state of emergency Thursday in preparation of the weather, set to arrive in mid-Missouri Friday morning.

Columbia Water & Light spokeswoman Connie Kacprowicz said employees will sleep in the office overnight on Friday to monitor conditions. Ice could weigh down power lines and tree limbs, leading to potential outages in the city. While residents that lose power may have been able to leave their home when it lost power, Kacprowicz said, residents should prepare for the possibility that roads and sidewalks are unusable due to ice.

"Think of it as far as if it's a camping trip, and all of the different things you would need to see at night, stay warm and food preparations," Kacprowicz told ABC 17 News.

City crews have applied chains to all truck tires and restocked them with supplies needed to fix power lines and poles. The city contracts with PAR Electric and Asplundh Tree Expert Company to help in emergencies. Columbia could also get help from across the country through the Missouri Public Utility Alliance. Kacprowicz said they have purchased about 20 hotel rooms for crews that may come into Columbia from other areas.

Both Columbia Water & Light and Boone Electric Cooperative offer online outage maps. Kacprowicz said calling the non-emergency line with the same number registered on the utility account will speed up the process of reporting an outage. If crews notice several outages in an area, it can help them pinpoint where on the circuit the outage occurred.

Chris Rohlfing, manager of member services for Boone Electric Cooperative, said line crews will apply tire chains to all trucks this weekend to manage the ice. With 28,000 members, the cooperative serves people just south of Moberly to Hartsburg. Trucks have tools for line repairs and tree-trimming handy, as well.

Rohlfing said people need to place gas-powered generators in a well-ventilated location. Even if a generator is in a garage with the door open, Rohlfing said the generator could pump carbon monoxide back into a home. Rohlfing also advised people only connect a generator to a home's electrical system if they have a "full disconnect switch installed by an electrician.

"Our linemen are doing everything they can to get the power back on," Rohlfing told ABC 17 News. "You may have a generator, and you may only be generating 120 volts, but when it comes backwards through the transformer, it could be seven thousand. And our guys are trusting that line has been shut off, and somebody's generator could put one of our linemen in a very, very fatal situation."


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