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Hundreds in N.D. remain without power after storm

BISMARCK (AP) -- Some of the hundreds of people in southwestern North Dakota who lost electricity during a weekend snowstorm could remain in the dark for a while.

It could be a week before power is restored to all customers, and replacing 700 downed power lines could take even longer, Don Franklund, co-manager of Mor-Gran-Sou Electric Cooperative and Slope Electric, told The Bismarck Tribune and KXMB-TV.

The storm dumped up to 1 1/2 feet of snow on the region. At least 550 Mor-Gran-Sou and Slope Electric customers remained without power at mid-day Monday, down from about 800 Sunday, co-manager Chris Baumgartner told The Associated Press.

"This morning we brought on 100-150 people so yes, we're making great progress," he said. "The weather is nice, so that helps. But it's going to be a few more days."

Four linemen from Northern Plains Electric traveled Monday to help with outage restoration efforts in southwestern North Dakota.

Randy Thomson, Cando, and Shannon Petersen, Josh Cabler and Josh Hoffman, all Carrington, joined with line crews throughout the state to get the lights back on near Elgin.

The melting snow created "a muddy mess" in the 60-degree weather, Cabler said, saying in the ditches, snow is 2 to 3 feet deep. Since bucket trucks would get stuck, crews are also climbing poles by hand.

"To give the public an idea of this storm's devastation, our crew worked on resetting poles about a mile north of Elgin. In three miles of three-phase line, only five poles were left standing," Cabler said.

Elgin is abut 90 miles south and west of Bismarck.

Crews are also coming in from neighboring electric co-ops in Wyoming and South Dakota to help with repairs, but finding lodging for them is difficult because of the housing shortage in the western North Dakota oil patch, Franklund said.

Montana Dakota Utilities Co. had about 325 customers without power at mid-day Monday, down from 750 customers on Sunday, spokesman Mark Hanson told the AP. Crews hoped to fully restore power by late Monday or early Tuesday, he said.

"The bulk of it (remaining outages) is in New Leipzig," he said. "Those in Heil and Leith might go into tomorrow."

The weather has warmed since the storm that hit late Friday and intensified on Saturday -- Monday's forecast from the National Weather Service called for high temperatures in the 50s in the region -- but that was causing another worry.

"Our next concern will be flooding," Franklund said.

Flooding forced Papa's Pumpkin Patch, a popular fall attraction in rural Bismarck, to shut down Sunday after the site had shut down on Saturday because of heavy snow.

The National Weather Service on Monday canceled a flood advisory for Bowman County but extended an advisory for Adams, Grant and Hettinger counties through mid-day Wednesday. As the snow melts, flooding will be a risk at rural roadways and creeks, meteorologist Ken Simosko told the Tribune.

(The Jamestown Sun contributed to this story)