Storm sidelines radio system for Swansea police, fire department

News-DemocratJuly 8, 2014 

The storms that ripped through the region Monday night damaged the computer-operated radio system for Swansea police and fire departments, according to Swansea Police Chief Michael Arnold.

He said lightning from the storm caused a power surge at the police station, which knocked its radio dispatching system off-line.

"It's not the first time this has happened," Arnold said.

Police and fire personnel were able to use portable radios to communicate with one another as well as dispatchers, according to Arnold. He said the problem didn't impact the phone lines.

Arnold was notified about the issue at 1:45 a.m. Tuesday and came into the station immediately. A technician was called out to correct the problem.

The issue didn't impact service except for a slight delay in dispatching the fire department for downed power lines, Arnold said, but it didn't affect the safety of Swansea residents.

The village's radio system was operating properly by 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, he said.

The village of Swansea dispatches its own police and fire departments rather than use the countywide dispatching center known as Cencom, which was not affected, according to Emergency Management Director Herb Simmons.

Local police and fire departments answered numerous calls about downed power lines as well as other damage caused by toppled trees and falling limbs as a result of the storms that swept through the area Monday night and Tuesday morning.

In Belleville, police said lines at 35th and West Main Street were brought down by the storm, while a tree fell across the 900 block of East Main Street, blocking traffic. In the 200 block of North 76th Street, a tree and a power pole were felled by the stormy weather.

In Godfrey, a tree was blown over by storm winds Monday night; it fell across a mobile home in the Oak Grove Trailer Park, nearly slicing it in half. The residents of the mobile home weren't home at the time the tree fell.

Ameren Illinois dealt with power outages across the metro-east. But, according to the company's outage map, power was restored to a majority of residents by Tuesday morning. As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, just 73 customers in Madison County were still without power.

In addition to damaging wind, large hail took its toll on area roofs and cars. Golf ball-sized hail was reported in the Mascoutah area and in the Columbia and Waterloo area.

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com and reporter Scott Wuerz at swuerz@bnd.com or call 239-2626.

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