July 2015 Storm
The Day the Lights Went Out
Thursday, July 16 at 2:00 p.m. was a sigh of relief for us when we successfully restored power to 9,000 members, some of whom had been without power for three and one-half days.
On Sunday, July 12, the storm of strong winds and lightning hit the Motley area around 7:00 p.m. It was three miles wide and eight miles long and moved quickly into Baxter, Brainerd, Nisswa, Merrifield and over to Crosby with storm winds estimated at 60 mph to 80 mph and some area’s that reached 100 mph. By the time it blew over around 9:00 p.m., we had over 9,000 members without power.
During the restoration we had 17 men from Highline Construction, four men from MilleLacs Energy, four from Lake Country Power and four from Lake Region Electric assist us with manpower and line trucks. We also had New Age Tree service helping with tree cutting and clearing.
The majority of outages were caused by storm damage to large Minnesota Power and Great River Energy transmission lines, which meant we had many substations without power. Once the transmission was back on Monday, we were able to concentrate on restoring main power lines to get a bulk of people back online. Crews worked through the night and into the next day, and by Monday night we were down to 3,000 people without power. The devastation to so many areas with downed trees and broken poles meant considerable time and labor for our crews to access and repair.
As crews continued in shifts, by Tuesday night we reported 1,100 remaining out and Wednesday night about 70 were left. By 2:00 Thursday afternoon all reported outages were repaired.
We found the communication between us at our operations dispatch post, and the community was greatly enhanced and improved by utilizing Facebook. We were able to post updates of crew locations, restorations and answer member’s questions in a very efficient way. And the outpouring of support from the community was overwhelming and greatly appreciated by all of us. We had over 49,000 Facebook visits during the storm – something we never expected or experienced.
EFFICIENT AND TIMELY RESTORATION
We attribute our expedited restoration to our dispatchers reaching out for contractor help immediately when the storm hit, the 72 men working 24 hours a day in the field, our ability to organize a sizeable workforce and our second-to-none Right of Way clearing program we’ve been maintaining for years.