Emergency managers: Prepare for long haulArea emergency managers are advising residents affected by power outages to prepare for the long haul and some electrical workers say this is the worst outage they have ever experienced.
By: Lisa Call, The Dickinson Press
Area emergency managers are advising residents affected by power outages to prepare for the long haul and some electrical workers say this is the worst outage they have ever experienced.
After blizzard conditions combined with ice and high winds over the weekend toppled power poles and split power lines, hundreds of southwest North Dakota residents remain without power and electric companies are still bringing in extra manpower.
After consulting with officials of Slope Electric Cooperative, Inc. Thursday, Bowman County Emergency Manager Dean Pearson said rural residents affected by the outages should be proactive in readying themselves “for the possibility of extended power outages,” according to a press release.
Pearson is not the only emergency manager heeding the advice.
Dunn County Emergency Manager Denise Brew also suggests rural residents prepare for the possibility of additional time without power, according to a press release.
Both Pearson and Brew say rural residents should have extra stock of food, water, fuel and any needed medications to last for an extended time.
Slope Electric restored power to 50 members on Wednesday, leaving about 600 still without power in their four-county coverage area, including Adams, Bowman, Hettinger and Slope counties.
Travis Kupper, chief financial officer and spokesman for Slope Electric, estimates the company to have 55,000 utility poles in its coverage area.
“We know we have 800 broken poles,” Kupper said. “We’re anticipating that number to increase as we’re able to patrol more of our system.”
On top of the additional 100 contract employees Slope Electric brought in over the last couple days and their 23 regular full-time employees, an additional 47 arrived Thursday from Montana, South Dakota and Wisconsin, Kupper said.
Repair efforts are being focused on the “backbone” of Slope Electric’s distribution system, about a 13-mile stretch, Kupper said, adding if everything runs perfectly, it will take crews about five to seven days to restore power to the main artery lines.
Kupper said the company was conducting a flyover of affected areas on Thursday to survey damages.
Hettinger County Emergency Manager Ilene Hardmeyer, said the county is also having a flyover today to assess damages.
“Hopefully they’ll start getting people online and things can go back to halfway normal because it’s getting a real drain on people financially,” Hardmeyer said.
As of Wednesday evening, more than 1,300 of the 3,000 affected customers of Roughrider Electric were still without power, according to a press release.
For those in need of information and unable to reach Slope Electric due to high call volume should call the county emergency operation center at 701-523-4771.