Storm leaves many without powerA barrage of rain, ice, sleet, snow and wind across the Dakotas has left thousands without power, some for up to five days. Rain-turned-ice froze on power lines causing outages beginning Thursday, and by Monday morning, high winds were snapping tree branches and downing lines.
By: By Kristen M. Daum, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
A barrage of rain, ice, sleet, snow and wind across the Dakotas has left thousands without power, some for up to five days.
Rain-turned-ice froze on power lines causing outages beginning Thursday, and by Monday morning, high winds were snapping tree branches and downing lines.
Service had been restored by mid-Monday to an estimated 2,700 Cass County Electric Co-op and Xcel Energy customers in south Fargo and West Fargo, who were without power for between one and three hours in the morning.
Meanwhile, rural counties in southeast North Dakota saw the brunt of the problem, as severe blizzard conditions made it impossible for many crews to restore service and left hundreds without electricity to heat their homes.
In all, about 1,000 Cass County Electric customers were affected by outages throughout the weekend, mostly near Lisbon and Valley City, N.D.
Many had power restored within hours, but about 10 customers were without power through Saturday night and part of Sunday morning, said Carrie Joyce, the co-op’s communications coordinator.
At one point on Saturday, Dakota Valley Electric Co-op had 900 customers in southeast North Dakota without power because of downed substations, energy management coordinator Kathy Rysavy said.
Near the South Dakota border, at least 60 residents had no power Monday evening in western McIntosh County, including Ashley, N.D.
Countless others in the area remained without electricity, as many small towns were affected by widespread outages.
“We’re just at the mercy of the weather,” Rysavy said.
Many residents there have generators, but after using them for several days, the residents face a new problem: They were running out of fuel for the generators.
“They can’t pump gas because they don’t have power; they need electricity,” said DeLoris Rudolph, McIntosh County’s emergency services director.
The North Dakota National Guard plans to bring additional generators to heat homes in and around Zeeland, N.D., southwest of Ashley, but they can’t do that until weather conditions improve, Rudolph said.
“Some of these people have been out since Thursday,” Rudolph said, adding that she was told some might not have power restored for up to three weeks.
For now, McIntosh County residents have found suitable places to ride out the storm until power is returned, by taking shelter with neighbors who have access to alternative heating sources, Rudolph said.
However, as weather conditions are expected to remain in the single digits and lower for the rest of the week, residents are more concerned about the future.
One option being discussed is opening an emergency community shelter in Zeeland to provide aid and heat to local residents, Rudolph said.
Gov. John Hoeven issued Friday a snow emergency, which activates all state resources to respond to severe weather, and state agencies were working Monday to assist communities statewide in restoring power.
Hoeven also waived service hour restrictions for commercial truck drivers delivering supplies to rural electric co-ops.
Across the Dakotas, nearly 13,000 people were reportedly out of power on Monday – of those more than 5,000 were in North Dakota and about 7,800 were in South Dakota,
As many as 8,000 utility poles were believed to be down in the Dakotas because of ice buildup and strong winds.
In contrast, northwestern Minnesota residents saw only sporadic outages in rural areas, with no widespread problems reported throughout the weekend.
For instance, Moorhead Public Utilities reported 76 residents without power for one hour on Saturday afternoon.
In the south and west portions of the state, however, Gov. Tim Pawlenty activated the Minnesota National Guard to assist with sheltering and other support for those without power.
Kristen M. Daum is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by
Forum Communications Co.