Power Back For Most Residents
Ramifications from the Christmas Day ice storm will likely hang around Marshall County for weeks to come, but most residents have their power back.
Rain began on Christmas Eve and continued most of Christmas Day. That was followed by cold temperatures that put a glaze of ice on just about everything with reports of ice on lines in some areas up to seven inches in diameter.
Strong winds clocked over 50 miles per hour were the final straw that resulted in snapped power poles, downed power lines, and broken tree limbs that resulted in thousands of residents in Marshall County and around the state losing electrical power.
Last week Monday 13 electric cooperatives in western South Dakota and the northern half of the state reported outages to 19,000 homes and businesses. Many area residents initially lost power shortly after noon on Christmas Day.
Power was restored by early Friday morning to thousands of electric cooperative members in northeastern South Dakota. Crews began reenergizing the lines Thursday evening with consumers seeing their power restored overnight.
The Western Area Power Administration’s (WAPA) substation in the Summit area lost structures in all three of its high-voltage fees from the north, south, and west. East River Electric Power Cooperative takes power from that WAPA substation to energize a number of its substations and provide power in the electric cooperative service territories of Whetstone Valley, Codington-Clark, Lake Region Electric, and Traverse Electric.
East River’s transmission system suffered severe damage to almost 500 structures and each of the area’s distribution cooperatives also suffered extensive structural damage.
Cooperative officials note that much repair work is left to be done and any change in wind or weather could delay progress and cause additional outages. Construction and maintenance crews will remain in the area over the next several weeks making system repairs. As power is restored cooperatives are urging people to stay away from downed or low-hanging power lines as they may be energized.
At least 74 workers from 16 South Dakota electric cooperatives have been assisting with repairs with an additional 52 workers from 13 cooperatives in Minnesota and Iowa. Private contractors have added approximately 100 more workers to the force.
In addition to the electrical issues, ice on roads, sidewalks, and parking lots continues to be a major problem around the county. Marshall County Highway Superintendent Dustin Hofland said that at least a quarter inch of ice was measured on the majority of county asphalt and gravel roads. Attempts were made to blade the gravel, but the ice thickness made it nearly impossible to make any difference. Trucks also have had trouble negotiating hills because of the slippery surfaces.