With the arrival of the winter cold snap, Potosi gets help to restore natural gas services for residents

POTOSI, Mo. – Less than two days after thousands of people lost natural gas service and heat to their homes in Potosi, about 70 miles southwest of St. Louis, nearly all have regained service early Wednesday evening.

A pipeline replacement project has been underway in the area for over a year. Workers ruptured one of the old pipes on Tuesday morning.

This led to a race against an expected winter storm to restore natural gas service to everyone. The storm arrived Wednesday afternoon. According to the mayor of Potosi, Joseph Blount, between 85% and 90% of the inhabitants had then regained their service.

Potosi operates its own natural gas utility. Exactly 2,700 to 3,000 residents and workers depend on it for heating.

The old pipeline is buried less than a foot deep in places. Old pipes are thin-walled and fragile. Workers replacing the old lines broke one on Tuesday morning. They fixed it quickly but restoration crews had to go door to door to nearly 900 buildings to reset the meters, purge the lines and turn the pilots back on.

It would have taken Potosi’s small staff three or more days to complete; but neighboring gas companies, including Spire in St. Louis, sent help, quadrupling the effort.

The Washington County Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross have opened a shelter at a gymnasium at the Baptist Church of South Potosi. About half a dozen families used it Tuesday night, the pastor said. The shelter remained on standby on Wednesday but it was empty and the beds had been removed.

About Keith Tatum

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