Southeast Hosting Nearly 150 Utility Workers, State Law Enforcement Personnel in Aftermath of Winter Storm

Photo of law enforcement vehicles parked in front of Vandiver Hall.

Southeast is hosting law enforcement officers and utility workers called to this part of the state to help with recovery efforts following this week’s winter storm. Here, Missouri Highway Patrol vehicles lined Henderson Street in front of Vandiver Hall, where the law enforcement officers are being housed.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

Jan. 29, 2009 – Southeast Missouri State University rolled out the welcome mat beginning Wednesday, Jan. 28, to about 25 law enforcement personnel and more than 80 utility workers sent to Southeast Missouri to assist with recovery efforts in the aftermath of this week’s crippling ice storm that left thousands in the dark and cold without power in the Missouri Bootheel.

The law enforcement personnel from the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Missouri Water Patrol are being housed in Vandiver and Henderson halls on campus and in a University-owned house south of Imo’s Pizza. Bruce Skinner, director of Residence Life, said unoccupied doubles have been converted into four-person rooms, thanks to additional sets of bunkbeds moved into those spaces.

The law enforcement personnel are working the night shift in areas south of Cape Girardeau, including in Caruthersville, Hayti and Charleston, Mo. Skinner said they ate breakfast and dinner on Thursday, Jan. 29, in Towers Cafeteria, spent the day sleeping in the residence halls and returned to duty Thursday night in the Missouri Bootheel. About 20 additional law enforcement personnel were expected to arrive later Thursday night, bringing the total of these forces being housed at Southeast to about 45. They are expected to continue their special duty in this area for a few more days.

On Thursday, Missouri Highway Patrol cars lined Henderson Street in front of Vandiver Hall, with others spilling over into the lot across the street. Skinner said Southeast students on campus were notified of the University’s law enforcement guests so as not to create any panic among residence hall students noticing the influx of Missouri Highway Patrol officers.

Southeast Missouri State University has been closed and classes have been cancelled Tuesday-Thursday, Jan. 27-29, due to the winter storm.

In addition to the law enforcement personnel, Southeast also is hosting about 85 utility workers from a variety of companies, including AmerenUE who have been called in to repair extensive and widespread damage to power lines and utility poles throughout Southeast Missouri. About 15 more utility workers were expected to arrive Thursday night, bringing the total of utility personnel being housed at Southeast to 100. Skinner said bunkbeds also have been moved into unoccupied double rooms in Towers West, South and East, making these rooms accessible to four utility workers per room. Residence Life staff moved furniture out of and extra beds into lounges in Towers West, South and East to make room for additional utility personnel, Skinner said. The utility workers also are expected to remain at Southeast for a couple more days, he said.

Skinner said all of the University’s guests have been provided with beds, mattresses and bed linens. Troy Vaughn, director of Recreation Services, said the Student Recreation Centers also supplied the workers with towels and sleeping bags.

“We’re pretty much out of beds and space now,” Skinner said.

Doug Richards, director of Southeast Missouri State University’s Department of Public Safety, said the University also has offered to loan some of its satellite telephones to the Southeast Missouri Emergency Management Agency for use during this crisis. He said the University’s also has offered dispatch space to extra law enforcement personnel sent to this area.

In addition, Richards said the City of Cape Girardeau is working to mobilize its Community Emergency Response Team, and University trained CERT members may be asked to volunteer their time to conduct damage assessment in the affected areas.