Alabama Power: All service expected to be restored by midnight

Thursday afternoon release from Alabama Power:All customers expected to be back on by midnight today.In less than three days, Alabama Power has restored service to more than 218,000 customers affected by Monday's derecho wind event. At 4 p.m. Thursday, crews were concentrating on getting the lights back on for about 4,500 customers in the most severely damaged areas of east Alabama.All customers who can take service are expected to have their lights back on by the end of today. At the height of the storms, 222,000 customers had their power disrupted.The worst damage took place in the company's Eastern Division, which includes hard-hit areas of Blount, Calhoun, Cleburne, Etowah and St. Clair counties. It resulted in more than 95,000 outages - greater than the region incurred following the devastating tornadoes of April 27, 2011, Hurricane Ivan and Hurricane Katrina.By midnight today, service is expected to be restored to everyone in the region, including customers in Anniston, Jacksonville, Heflin, Gadsden, Pell City and Oneonta.More than 3,500 people are involved in the restoration effort, including crews from Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.As power is restored, Alabama Power wants to emphasize the continuing importance of safety. If power is still out, please call Alabama Power's automated reporting system at 1-800-888-APCO (2726). It is the fastest way to report an outage or a hazardous situation, such as a downed power line. Also, remember to stay clear of areas with fallen trees, downed lines or debris where downed lines may be hidden.