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Tens of Thousands Without Power in Southern Illinois

By Kalyn Belsha in News on May 10, 2009 7:15PM

A street is blocked in Carbondale, Ill. on Friday after storms whipped through the southern part of the state. Photo by oakbluffcamper.
Severe thunderstorms across the Midwest on Friday and Saturday have left about 63,500 people without power in southern Illinois. Strong winds that reached up to 100 mph toppled hundreds of utility poles and downed electric wires in Carbondale, Marion and surrounding areas about 300 miles southwest of Chicago.

Electricity provider Ameren hopes to restore their customers’ power by midnight Tuesday. A team of about 1,200 is working on the situation across eight different counties now, but the areas have sustained enormous damages that will take some time to repair.

According to Associated Press reports, roofs and siding were peeled off hundreds of homes in southern Illinois. Trailer parks were torn apart and car windows blown completely out. In Carbondale, where sustained wind was measured at up to 90 mph, the township's fire captain believed it was possible a tornado had touched down in the area. Southern Illinois University’s Friday graduation ceremonies were canceled.

Franklin, Jackson and Williamson counties were declared state disaster areas by Governor Pat Quinn on Saturday, which allowed the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to coordinate state assistance for them. State troopers have also been dispatched to secure the area and help direct traffic.

The line of thunderstorms that moved across Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky Saturday was responsible for six deaths in the area: three in Missouri, one is Kansas and two in central Kentucky. Parts of southern and western Illinois are still under flood warning, according to the National Weather Service. [via Daily Herald]