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Power outage

BLOOMINGTON — When Howard Edmondson woke up about 7 a.m. Wednesday at his home on Bunn Street in Bloomington, he quickly realized he had a problem.

He was cold and his alarm clock was dark.

“I knew I was a little late on making my last payment, but I started getting mad that they cut my power on such a cold morning, even though I had mailed it in,” he said. “I’m between jobs right now and was planning on getting an early start to job hunting.”

Edmondson spotted a neighbor and quickly discovered he wasn’t the only one who woke up cold Wednesday. In fact, power was knocked out at 6:38 a.m. to about 7,000 households on the south and east sides of Bloomington and the south end of Normal.

"We had a fault on a power line and that led to a problem at a substation," said Kelly Hendrickson, a spokeswoman for Ameren Illinois. "Our crews isolated the problem quickly.”

Power was restored to all Ameren Illinois customers by Wednesday evening.

Approximately 1,754 Cornbelt Energy customers in Bloomington also were without power in what was described as a transmission issue impacting the Beltline substation that was related to the Ameren failure, according to a company spokesman. Those issues were cleared up by mid-morning.

Still, the outages happened at a time when the National Weather Service said Central Illinois air temperatures ranged from zero to 10-below and a wind-chill advisory was in effect.

“It’s always an inconvenience when your power goes out,” Edmondson said. “But when it is this cold, it goes well past an inconvenience. It’s almost a nightmare.”

Amanda Athena was waiting for a bus near her home on Clinton Avenue in Bloomington during the outage, looking forward to being any place that had heat.

“I’m chilled to the bone,” she said. “I need that bus just so I can warm up some.”

When Athena realized that she could be without power for several hours, she decided she had to get out of the house.

“There isn’t any way I am standing around there freezing,” she said. “I’m not even sure where I’m going. I think the mall. I just have to warm up. Even the bus is going to be warmer than that house.”

Motorists had to contend with several stoplights that were out of commission. There were no reports of serious injuries due to crashes caused by the power outage Wednesday.

The cold weather that made it rough for Central Illinois residents Wednesday is going to stick around, say NWS forecasters in Lincoln.

Thursday’s high is expected to be about 17 degrees, and the Friday afternoon high may reach 19 degrees with a chance of light snow. The weekend will remain bitterly cold with afternoon temperatures around 10 degrees and overnight lows below zero.

Temperatures on Monday and Tuesday are expected to be around 14 degrees in the afternoon.

Follow Kevin Barlow on Twitter: @pg_barlow