IL - Gas Outage, Gauge Malfunction; Pressure Loss : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Some Gas Restored in Petersburg

June 9,2000

By MELISSA WESTPHAL STAFF WRITER - The State Register Journal, Springfield, Ill

PETERSBURG - Steven Brady would have appreciated a call from AmerenCIPS before the gas powering his pizza ovens was turned off in his Petersburg restaurant.

"We didn't even realize the gas was off until the pizzas in the ovens started to cool down," said Brady, owner of Leo's Pizza. "They shut it off right in the middle of business hours without warning. We had no idea what happened or where we stood, so we shut down."

Leo's Pizza was one of several businesses left without natural gas Thursday morning after a Wednesday afternoon outage that affected mostly the Petersburg area. As of noon Thursday, half of the 900 affected AmerenCIPS customers had their gas restored, spokesman Ed McDowall said.

"We continue to project that all the customers will be restored by this weekend," he said.

McDowall said a gauge malfunctioned about 3 p.m. Wednesday while AmerenCIPS employees were working at a regulator station at Sixth and Washington streets in Petersburg. The system's main valve had to be closed because of the pressure loss, leaving 900 customers without gas.

Local AmerenCIPS crews as well as employees from Beardstown, Canton, Jerseyville, Macomb, Quincy and Virden will visit all 900 customers to restore their gas.

Some customers called the company's toll-free line to request that their power be turned on earlier, including several businesses. McDowall said workers tried to accommodate as many requests as they could, starting at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

"We knocked on doors till about 11 p.m., and then we told those people with special requests to turn their porch lights on," McDowall said. "They worked till about 1 a.m. and continued in the morning."

Gas was back on at Leo's Pizza by about 11 a.m. Thursday.

Pizza Hut and Hardee's both closed as well. A Pizza Hut employee who asked not to be named estimated that the business lost between $900 and $1,000 because of the closure.

The restaurant's gas was restored by about 10:45 a.m. Thursday, just before its 11 a.m. opening.

Hardee's store manager Randy Hunt said he heard sounds of surging gas in the store's meter, causing it to shut down shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday.

"There would be this rush of gas into the meter, and then silence and back and forth," Hunt said. "Most of the food we had was cooked and sold before we closed, so we didn't waste much."

Hunt set Hardee's loss at about $800, but it was not recorded as a substantial loss.

Hungry residents were able to eat at Dairy Queen and Subway because those stores' appliances are electric.

"We were extremely busy, but people that came in didn't seem to complain much," said Dairy Queen owner Bill Hess.

Subway manager Tonya Shawgo said her restaurant made about 20 percent more profit for staying open.

"We were very, very busy, but our employees handled it well," Shawgo said. "People got frustrated because of the long lines, but there was nowhere else to go."

Managers and owners of McDonald's, New Salem Restaurant, Old Towne Restaurant and Kent's IGA Foodliner said they were unaffected by the outage.

Andrea Jones, a meter reader with the city of Petersburg, said city hall phone lines were relatively quiet, at least in terms of resident complaints.

"The problem was pretty much fixed for a lot of people early Thursday morning," Jones said. "We didn't have a single call complaining about it, so people must be dealing with it civilly."

Anyone still experiencing problems can call the AmerenCIPS customer service center toll-free at (888) 789-2477.

Melissa Westphal can be reached at 788-1523 or


-- (, June 09, 2000

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