GIFFORD — Personnel from Ameren are expected to be in force on Tuesday in Gifford to start work rebuilding the community’s power system, which was left devastated by Sunday’s tornado.
Jeni Hagen, community relations coordinator at Ameren, told hundreds of people at a community meeting Monday at Gordyville USA that residents can expect to see a lot of electric construction activity throughout the day Tuesday.
“What is going on in Gifford on Tuesday is a total rebuild,” Hagen said. “We are going to infiltrate the community of Gifford with a lot of Ameren people. We have big trucks and big poles. This is not a repair; it’s a total rebuild.”
Hagen said Ameren crews hope to have electricity restored by Wednesday.
"We will get power back to the houses that can safely get power,” she said.
But Hagen added that damage to some homes might be so great that it may take longer for those homes to get power.
The Red Cross, in conjunction with the United Way, will be working to help people who want to volunteer to help those affected by the tornado to be matched with Gifford residents who need that help.
On Tuesday volunteers can report to Gordyville starting at 9 a.m., where United Way personnel will register them and get information about what they are able to do, according to Kelly Formoso of the American Red Cross.
Meanwhile, residents in need are being asked to come to County Heath Care nursing home, where Red Cross personnel will take down information about the specific needs and match residents with volunteers. Those volunteers will be bussed to the nursing home, where they will meet the people who need help.
In addition, contractors hired by Gifford residents to help with rebuilding are going to be asked to check in so that police know they are invited to enter the village to do work, according to Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh.
Bernard Anderson of Nicor Gas said that he has asked the mayor to hold off on any demolition work until Wednesday so that Nicor can ensure that gas lines are safe. He said residents should continue to assume all gas mains are live.
People who smell gas should provide the information to the command center at the fire department or call 911, he said.
Walsh said there was one report of alleged looting, but it may be a case of miscommunication. He said state troopers, sheriff’s deputies and others have been working around the clock to help protect the community.
“Our plan at night is to pretty much close down the village because we know your property is unsecured, and we want to keep it as safe as we possibly can,” Walsh said.