Restoring power

Ruthton area residents cope without electricity for hours and days

Photos courtesy of Lyon-Lincoln Electric Cooperative Lyon-Lincoln Electric Cooperative crews worked Thursday and Friday to fix and replace power poles.

MARSHALL — Ruth Staeffler from rural Ruthton had to sit in her car to get warmed up and charge her phone Thursday.

Staeffler didn’t have electricity for 16 hours and is one of many around the area who felt the effects of downed power lines because of the late winter storm.

Staeffler said the temperature got to about 48-50 degrees inside her house.

“I’m just grateful it wasn’t the middle of January and 20 below zero,” she said.

She and her husband, Rod Staeffler, lost electricity some time in the night Wednesday.

“I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and we didn’t have electricity,” she said. It was restored at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

The city of Ruthton still was without electricity Friday.

The Jina and Brian Baartman family have been without electricity since Wednesday night.

“It went out a little after 10 o’clock,” said Jina Baartman.

The family does have a generator which, through an extension cord, is hooked up to the furnace. They shut it off during the night.

“It takes a lot of gasoline,” she said.

At first they took the food out of the refrigerator and put it in coolers and set them on the back patio because they weren’t sure if the generator would handle both the furnace and the refrigerator. Then tested it and the refrigerator does work as well with the furnace going. They unplug the refrigerator when they want to cook in the pizza baker or the air cooker.

For Ruthton residents without a generator the community center is open for anyone who wants to keep warm, Baartman said.

The elementary school in Ruthton is without power as well.

“My husband had to take the backhoe and clear a path in front so trucks could back in and get the food out of the freezers to take it to another building,” she said.

Twice she has received messages from Xcel Energy that power would be restored, but they were false alarms. If it continues another night, the Baartmans plan to stay in a hotel in Marshall, Pipestone or Sioux Falls, S.D.

According to its website, Xcel Energy reports that there are multiple outages throughout southern Minnesota, eastern South Dakota and western Wisconsin. The bulk of the outages are in Minnesota.

Lyon-Lincoln Electric Cooperative has had crews working on restoring power in its service areas.

Thursday afternoon, Brian Jeremiason reported on its Facebook page that Lyon Lincoln Electric “lost approximately 30 poles throughout the day. Most of the damage was found on the east side of our system from Lynd, south to Florence, east to Tracy and then north to Amiret. We did have a handful of individual outages and line outages on the west side of the system.

“One line outage out of the Ghent Substation serving Alta Vista township and the other out of the Marble Substation. Both were single phase line outages and were identified by the new RF metering system.”

By Friday afternoon, with the weather letting up, the linemen still had plenty of work to do.

“As the ice melts it affects the lines, breakers blow,” Jeremiason said. “It’s a moving target. Some people might have power restored and then have it out again. We’ll have additional outages.”

The cities of Balaton and Tracy have trees down plus were experiencing power outages.

Marshall Public Schools canceled school for Friday because of the weather. Classes were canceled as well at Southwest Minnesota State University. Area activities were canceled Friday and activities were canceled or postponed today as well such as the Out of the Darkness Walk which has been rescheduled to Saturday, May 4. The “Social Media, Social Life: What Every Teen AND Every Parent Needs to Know” event was postponed Friday to May 3.