SW Minn. Might Not Get Power Back Until Next Week

Updated: 04/11/2013 10:29 PM KSTP.com By: Scott Theisen

The spring snowstorm has piled on to the headaches of the southwest corner of Minnesota, where communities are still struggling to restore power following an ice storm earlier in the week. Officials say it may be early next week before electricity is restored to everyone.

Six to 8 inches of wet snow fell early Thursday on top of the ice that Mother Nature laid down on Nobles and Jackson counties Tuesday night, which snapped most of the main high-voltage transmission lines that feed the area.

Rick Burud, general manager of Worthington-based Nobles Cooperative Electric, says that's left the region with no outside sources of power. About 5,000 customers in Nobles and Jackson counties remained in the dark, while Worthington was limping along with an emergency generator and rolling blackouts.

The State Emergency Operations Center remains on Level III - which is partial activation, according to the state Department of Public Safety. State agencies were coordinating the following resources and aid for the area:

In Nobles County, plans were in the works to partially activate an Emergency Operations Center in the county's government center, which has reopened. In Rock County, an emergency operations center is fully activated.

The State Department of Transportation warned motorists in southwestern Minnesota to remain cautious. Driving conditions have improved, but remain difficult due to blowing snow and slippery roads.

The city administrator of Worthington says the damaging ice storm has changed the cityscape forever.

Administrator Craig Clark says it was "raining branches" in the city because of all the ice.

Clark says the city's backup diesel generation plant kept houses warm and sump pumps going when up to a third of the city lost power. He says the city's industries, including the JBS meatpacking plant, and local schools remain closed because of the power situation.

Clark says that while the city sustained extensive forestry damage, he has not heard of any injuries.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed an emergency executive order Thursday that exempts trucks and drivers transporting supplies and materials to areas hit by the storm from state regulations regarding hours of service.
Drivers providing emergency relief efforts still need to follow other safety regulations.
Dayton earlier activated the state National Guard to help Minnesotans dealing with the storm.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.