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Ameren crews continue to work around the clock to restore power to those affected by Friday night's storms.
The EF-3 tornado carved a 32 mile path of destruction from Weldon Spring to Ferguson and tore down over 200 poles critical to supplying electricity to tens of thousands of customers. Ameren's Michael Moehn says replacing the 70 foot poles is extremely labor intensive.
"This is what we would call sub-transmission lines," Moehn said. "So the way it works is, we have to get this installed first because this feeds substations which then feed neighborhoods. So what we have to do is come in and disconnect everything from the existing poles, and then reset the new pole, and reconnect everything."
Moehn urges anyone who sees a downed pole or power line to stay away from it and call Ameren immediately. (1-800-552-7583)
Moehn says about 90,000 customers were left in the dark from Friday's storms.
He says it is one of the top wind-damaging outbreaks in recent memory. "This certainly ranks up there with the top two or three in the past six or seven years. Again, the amount of sub-transmission with these really high poles, that kind of damage is significant."
Moehn expects most customers will have power restored by later today, although some may have to wait until tomorrow. As of 6:00 a.m. today, 36,000 electric customers in St. Charles and St. Louis Counties were still without power. Another 1,000 customers in Madison County were still in the dark.
It was a big weekend for graduation ceremonies in the St. Louis area, but Friday night's storms forced several to be moved, postponed or both. The storms downed power lines and damaged the Family Arena in St. Charles where five high schools had been scheduled to hold graduation ceremonies over the weekend.
Francis Howell North, Francis Howell Central and Francis Howell high school combined their separate Saturday ceremonies into one mega-graduation at Lindenwood University on Sunday where more than 390 students received their diplomas.
Mehlville and Oakville high schools had reserved the arena for Sunday and instead moved both commencements to Oakville. And power loss at UMSL forced Hazelwood high schools to move their commencement exercises from Saturday, to Sunday.
Strong storms swept though the metro St. Louis area Friday evening, bringing strong winds, lightning, heavy rain and even some unconfirmed reports of tornadoes.
One metro-east town is heartbroken after the storm did serious damage to a structure with historic and sentimental significance.
Gillespie High School sustained heavy damage in the storms. The concession stand along the athletic fields was wiped out. The roof was peeled back on the building housing the weight room. But most upsetting was the damage to the school's historic gymnasium. The building was heavily damaged in the storm, one brick wall crumbling when part of the roof was ripped away.
The Macoupin County emergency manager is reporting that 25 to 30 homes in the Gillespie area sustained roof damage. Several large trees were knocked down, taking many power lines with them.
Power is out to the entire town of Gillespie and much of the area surrounding the town about 50 miles northeast of St. Louis.