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Sheriff says stay inside if possible

Friday afternoon St. Francois County Sheriff Dan Bullock advised all residents to stay at home if at all possible.

&#8220If you don’t have to get out, stay in,” he advised. &#8220We are encouraging people to stay home, but if you do have to get out, make sure you take an emergency kit, warm clothes and enough food and water that you can survive until we can get to you if you are stranded.”

Bullock said the main roads were in fairly good shape and the main thoroughfares had been cleared by the afternoon. Secondary roads were another matter, according to the sheriff.

&#8220Ninety percent of them have limbs or electric lines or both on them,” Bullock said. &#8220The road crews were out since Thursday night and the 911 Center, the Sheriff’s Department, local police departments and the county road department are all working together to get the roads cleared.

&#8220We’ll be working round the clock to keep going and to help keep things safe for our residents.”

Bullock said the biggest problem was the lack of electricity. He said the local heating shelters housed more than 100 people Thursday night.

Officials are urging people to call the non-emergency number for Central Dispatch at 431-3131 if they need assistance. Bullock said they will help people even with transportation, but callers need to have patience. &#8220Please don’t call us to report that your electricity is off. We will report those calls to the utility company, but yours will be put at the end of the line.”

Bullock said he had spoken with AmerenUE officials Friday afternoon but they would not give him as definite answer as to when the electricity would be fully restored.

In addition to dealing with the cold and the slippery roads, Bullock said they had responded to 12 to 14 structure fires on Thursday night. They also had to evacuate residents from at least three homes because electric lines were on the houses.

Presiding Commissioner Jim Henson declared a state of emergency for the county early Friday morning. The County Commissioners have sent a request to the governor asking him to declare this a disaster area and at press time were waiting to hear from him. Requests have also been sent for manpower and generators from the National Guard.

The Red Cross was expected to be at the local heating shelters at 5 p.m. Friday with bedding, food and medical supplies.

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