An ice storm recently downed more than 5000 poles and knocked out power to 35,000 customers in Ameren UE's service territory. About 4000 workers repaired damage following the storm, which affected 34 towns in southeast Missouri.

One of Ameren's crews spent 13 days framing and setting new wooden poles in the town of Hayti, Missouri. The weather conditions and long hours took a toll on the line crews, said Nick Schwandt, journeyman lineman.

“We couldn't put up the lines fast enough without trees tearing them back down,” recalled Schwandt, who estimated that about 50 miles of wood poles were down as a result of the storm.

When he first arrived on the job, he said he was shocked by the sheer magnitude of the damage. Normally, when he works a storm, he has to hang up a new crossarm. In the case of this storm, poles were down everywhere.

“It was complete devastation and looked like a bomb went off,” said Schwandt. “Tree limbs were falling left and right, and everywhere you went, ice was falling off the line.”

The linemen relied on digger derrick trucks and bucket trucks to restore power and make repairs. By working closely with other utilities and contractors, the linemen basically rebuilt the entire system, he noted.