Co-ops in western South Dakota are bracing for additional headaches as more winter weather – including more snow and wind – is expected to begin pummeling already damaged infrastructure.
The additional weather will further hamper crews' ability to get into areas to make repairs, while high winds may down additional, weakened lines or take down lines with temporary repairs.
Cooperatives urge people to stay away from all downed power lines as they may be energized.
More than 6,300 poles were downed in the early October storm, which caused continuing outages to rural electric cooperative members in 10 counties in western South Dakota. On Monday afternoon, co-ops were estimating that about 1,600 members remained without power and that repairs in some areas may take several more days.
Cooperatives reporting ongoing outages include:
Black Hills Electric Cooperative, Custer, S.D.
Butte Electric Cooperative, Newell, S.D.
Grand Electric Cooperative, Bison, S.D.
West River Electric Association, Wall, S.D.
More than 240 workers from electric cooperatives in South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming, in addition to crews from Nebraska public power districts, private contractors and the South Dakota National Guard are working to restore power. These crews are in addition to the nearly 150 employees at the affected cooperatives who have been working since the beginning of the storm.
The counties impacted by the ongoing power outages comprise nearly a third of the state's land mass – an area nearly the size of the state of West Virginia – and include some of the more remote areas of the state. The electric co-op lines maintained in this area would extend from Mount Rushmore to the Statue of Liberty – and back – three times.
For more information on storm damage, visit the South Dakota Rural Electric Association storm center at http://outages.sdrea.coop/. Information about outages within the specific cooperatives can be found on the cooperatives' web and Facebook pages.