Power outages continue in southern North Dakota

Two days after the Christmas Day ice storm, power company officials were still gauging the damage Tuesday, according to Craig Rysavy, operations manager for Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative.

Two days after the Christmas Day ice storm, power company officials were still gauging the damage Tuesday, according to Craig Rysavy, operations manager for Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative.

Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative serves the southern third of Stutsman County and all of LaMoure and Dickey counties. The cooperative's service area extends east to the Wahpeton area and west to include small parts of Logan and McIntosh counties. Rysavy said the worst of the power outages were in Dickey and LaMoure counties.

"We're still in discovery mode," he said. "We've been at this a couple of days and my gut feeling is we'll work on this all week."

Rysavy said the number of reported outages climbed Tuesday morning to about 900 accounts, although there were no new outages.

"We know from experience not everyone could call in their outage yesterday," he said.


Other power companies were faring better. Otter Tail Power Co. issued a press release Tuesday saying it had restored power to all Jamestown customers at about 10:45 Monday night. Northern Plains Electric Cooperative listed 47 homes without power Tuesday morning, down from a peak of about 580 homes on Sunday evening.

Northern Plains provides electrical service for the rest of Stutsman County and north to the Canadian border.

Brad Fowler of Sky Farmer Ag Services, located in Manns Township in southeast Stutsman County, said his home had been without electricity since 4 p.m. Christmas Day. He is served by Dakota Valley Electric.

"We've got a wood burner keeping the house liveable," he said. "Old habits are hard to break. You still reach for the light switch when you walk into a room even if there hasn't been electricity for two days."

Fowler said his biggest concern was keeping the pipes from freezing in an office area in his aircraft hangar that did not have a wood burning stove.

"I've got fish house heaters going there," he said.

In Jamestown, the rain and ice came in three separate shots of precipitation from 11 a.m. to 5:20 p.m. Sunday, according to Rick Krolak, observations program leader for the National Weather Service in Bismarck. The reporting station at the Jamestown Regional Airport reported 0.69 inch of rain and freezing rain before the system turned to snow Sunday evening.

"I would anticipate more (rain and freezing rain) the further south you went," Krolak said.


That held true in Dickey County, according to Charlie Russell, county emergency manager.

"We have 2 inches of ice over everything. It looks like a set from the movie 'Frozen,'" he said, referring to the animated Disney movie.

Russell said along with the challenges Dakota Valley co-op was facing, other utilities were also struggling to maintain or restore service.

Montana-Dakota Utilities was hoping to restore electric service to Monango and Fullerton Tuesday afternoon, and Southeast Water Users was having water pressure problems in the hills of western Dickey County because pumping stations were without electricity.

Five miles of a high-voltage powerline from the Tatanka Wind Farm near Forbes north to a substation was also down, Russell said.

"Picture an artillery duel," he said. "That's what the downed poles and lines look like."

Officials closed the road along that powerline forcing some farmers in the Forbes area to use field roads or cross pastures if they needed to leave their homes, Russell said.

Rysavy said as other cooperatives finished repairs in their own territory, they would make crews available to help Dakota Valley.


He anticipated about 45 linemen working on Tuesday including aid from Northern Plains and Legacy Power Line, a powerline construction company from Wadena, Minn.

Crews will be restringing line onto poles and in some cases, replacing poles that broke under the load of ice and snow Sunday.

"We have about 400 poles in inventory," Rysavy said. "I don't know if that is enough."

Fowler said he anticipated the power may be out a few more days.

"They are doing the best they can," he said. "We've got a lot of trees down in our yard. They must have so many lines and substations down."

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