Power Problems Continue To Plague Residents

Since Christmas Day Storms, Thousands Still Wait For Power To Come Back On

Power problems continue to plague the northern part of South Dakota.

Christmas Day storms took out the power for residents such as Tim Gapp in Summit.

“Most everybody right now is trying to get by as little as they can,” said Gapp.

It’s been several days now since Gapp’s home has had power.

Icicles hang from his roof, leaving a reminder of the storms that froze his everyday life.

A generator helps as much as it can and heat is coming solely from propane.

He said using propane for heat is a health risk they needed to take.

“You really have to be careful what type of heaters that you’re using to make sure they’re not putting up too much carbon dioxide,” said Gapp.

These are the challenges still facing residents in Roberts County as well as several others around the northeast corner of the state.

East River Electric Chief Operating Officer Jim Edwards said progress is coming, slowly but surely.

“We’ve got a long ways to go. We’ve got 500 structures down. We’ll probably have, by the end of the day, maybe hopefully 80 to 90 of them back up on the air,” said Edwards.

With those coming back up, the hope is that about 4,000 people will get their power back on.

“Our main focus right now is getting eight sub stations that are out of power, back on. Those substations then serve the end distribution centers and then customers,” said Edwards.

Whether the provider is East River Electric or Ottertail, Edwards said everyone is facing a common problem: the weather.

“The wind picks up, is the wind going to cause us more problems? Or more lines go back down that either didn’t go down or we just put back up,” said Edwards.

For residents like Gapp, the power is part of the puzzle.

For property damage like downed trees, the problems won’t turn off with a light switch.

“Some of that stuff is going to be here until spring which is going to cause more problems for us with snow removal and catching snow. We’re going to be dealing with this for quite some time,” said Gapp.

East River Electric hopes their power will be up for customers in the next day or so.

They say, right now, they are waiting for Western Area Power Administration to figure out their own power issues that will give their repaired power lines back and running.

Edwards says it will take another three to four weeks to put up all of the total power lines they lost on Christmas Day.

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