This year has been a busy one in KOTA Territory, but almost nothing compares to what many say was the blizzard of the century in early October.
For Mike McCauly, the blizzard on October 4 won't easily be forgotten. "It was one of the worst blizzards I've ever seen," said McCauly. But he wasn't the only one affected. "My daughter and son-in-law lost power for 72 hours and they were on a well community, so they didn't even have water," said McCauly. Many people in KOTA Territory felt the devastation and one of the biggest problems was lack of power.
No power, no water; these are essential items we depend on, but what about no oxygen? "The number of calls people who were on oxygen and running out certainly presented a huge challenge to us," said Dennis Gorton, with the Pennington County Fire Department. "Then there was getting it to them in the blizzard." Luckily for those running low emergency responders didn't let the storm stop them.
Mike Letcher, the operations manager for West River Electric, says this was the worst power outage he's ever seen. "The number of poles lost, we've never lost poles like that," said Letcher. That, coupled with the conditions, made restoring power a long-endured process. "It was a slow going due to the mud and snow," said Letcher. Most West River electric customers had power within three days, but it took 16 days to restore all the power.
Letcher says the experience can only better prepare them for future storms "We definitely learned a lot on dealing with the number of people," said Letcher. "We had to bring in a lot of people to help all the extra crews just the logistics for all that."
Black Hills Power reported 42,000 customers without power and it took them 12 days to return it all.