Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Warmer Welcome Rex Avenue Turns on Grills, Patience

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Warmer Welcome Rex Avenue Turns on Grills, Patience

Article excerpt

The folks on Rex Avenue in Breckenridge Hills have been living in a Dark Age.

The street of neatly kept, one-story homes has been without electricity since 9:40 a.m. Sunday, when winds toppled a massive elm.

The tree landed across the bed of Dave Barber's white GMC pickup, bending the truck like a swaybacked mule and splattering limbs and power lines across Rhonda McClain's front yard.

McClain, a TWA flight attendant, was on the back deck barbecuing steaks Tuesday afternoon when Union Electric Co. showed up to assess the damage. With the house dark, her car in the driveway provided music.

"Everything's thawing in the freezer," she said. "That's why we're cooking steaks. We did pork chops yesterday."

With 212,800 of UE's 1.2 million area customers without power because of Sunday's storms, crews have been working overtime to repair the damage. By late Tuesday, power was restored to all but 6,800 - 5,000 of them in North County.

"It's slow going," said spokeswoman Susan Gallagher. "We've got the big areas on, now it's street to street, house to house."

Somebody has to be the last light on. It could be the residents of Rex Avenue because the utility schedules its work according to the number of houses without power. Their block on Rex has only about a dozen houses without power.

McClain, 30, said she and her mother are doing OK. Only Peetie, her pet lizard, had to bail out because it wasn't a night for iguanas.

"It gets too cold for him," she explained. "I wrapped him in his baby blanket and took him to a friend's, where he's staying in the bathtub. It's his first overnight.

"I miss my soap operas. But I miss Peetie mostly. You get used to a 4-foot iguana walking around."

Mary Moton, who lives a couple of houses down Rex, prepared for the worst by going out for more bags of ice for the freezer Tuesday. "We tried to find dry ice," she said. "But they were sold out."

With the TV silenced, Moton, 68 and retired, has been spending most of her time reading. "I love to read," she said. …

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