Around 20,000 people in Madison County lost power early Sunday morning as a high-powered storm blew through the area. A pavilion at a Highland park was left leaning, but overall, damage locally from the storm was minimal, and no injuries were reported.
“Street and Alley were out for several hours (Sunday) getting limbs off of the street,” said Highland Public Works Director Joe Gillespie. “But nothing sizable.”
The Rotary Pavilion at Dennis Rinderer Park was damaged in the storm, during which .79 inch of rain fell in Highland. While still standing, the pavilion was left listing to one side, prompting city officials to place yellow caution tape around it. Parks and Recreation Director Mark Rosen said the city is currently devising a plan how best to fix it.
The main damage from the storm came in the form of electric outages.
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“The power outages began at approximately 3:45 a.m., Sunday. We had the majority of the original outages repaired within the first hour, as they were substation breaker related,” said Highland Light & Power Director Dan Cook.
“Unfortunately, there were many downed tree issues, which generally affect less customers, however, they are much more labor intensive to restore,” said Cook, who also warned people to stay away from downed lines. “We had all crews active and restored the majority of the remaining folks by approximately 3:30 Sunday afternoon, with the exception of Lakeview. Lakeview was restored by around 6 p.m.”
Approximately 1,500 Highland residences were affected in the first hour of the storm, Cook said.
“After restoring the substation breakers, we were down to about 500 residences,” Cook said. “A few hours later, we were down to less than 200 remaining out and then returned their power back in groups of 10 to 30 houses at a time as downed lines were repaired.”
Ameren experienced several outages around the metro-east. As of Monday at 4 p.m., according to Ameren Illinois’ outage map, Madison County had about 1,500 still without power.
Ameren Power crews were still working Monday afternoon to restore power to a row of houses along Hill Road. Ryan Ayers and Jessie Merritt, who live on Hill Road north of Highland, were one of the properties who had their power out for over 24 hours, as power line were drooped across their driveway.
By 4:30 p.m. Monday, Southwestern Electric Cooperative line crews had restored power to all but six of the remaining members who lost service early Sunday morning. The outage affected more than 3,300 members in six of the 11 counties served by Southwestern Electric.
Luckily, temperatures on Sunday and Monday moderated. While recent days had seen highs top 100 degrees, the high in Highland was on 87 and 86, respectively, according to News Leader weather statistician Jeff Menz.
In the event of future storms, Cook said the public can check Facebook for updates under “City of Highland IL Electric Department.”
“If they like that page, they can request notifications of updates which are published during major outages,” Cook said.
Reporter Megan Braa and the Belleville News-Democrat contributed to this story.