Thousands could be without power in Southwest Minnesota for several days

NOBLES COUNTY, S.D. - About 4,100 members of the Nobles Cooperative Electric Services are without power right now in Minnesota. The co-op serves about 6,800 consumers total in Murray and Nobles counties.

The April storm that ripped through the area left thousands without power, who likely won't all get it back until Monday or Tuesday. Crews are literally picking up the pieces after the storm.

"The wires built up to about ¾ inch of ice and pretty soon, we lost our power suppliers, which are the transmission line. And then of course it took a lot of our three phase poles down and lines," Brian Postma said, who is the Nobles Cooperative Electric line superintendent.

The power outages started Wednesday and just got worse from there. The storm damaged about 500 poles.

"The linemen right now are basically putting up wires, installing poles, clearing tree branches, fixing transformers," Postma said.

And they're doing it all in the elements.

"The conditions are just tough to work in. Everything's muddy. Everything's wet. It's hard to get access to a lot of stuff," Elias Constans said, who is a journeyman lineman.

But he and five others on his crew are making it work.

"Being a lineman, it's a different breed. It's just the way we are. We're built for it," he said.

There are 22 linemen helping Nobles Cooperative Electric restore power. Twelve of them are already on staff. But the rest have been brought in from other co-ops or contractors.

"We're here to help each other out, and a lineman is a lineman. We're all brothers," Constans said.

Many are comparing this storm to the one that hit the area in April of 2013. The nobles co-op lost about 1,200 poles in that event. But there's still a lot of cleanup to do in this one.

"It could get worse as we start to- When the transmission line comes on, we're going to know more as to where our outages are, and the poles could escalate. We could have a lot more," Postma said.

People who don't have power are either looking for generators right now or staying in a hotel in Slayton or Worthington.

Linemen will work 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM throughout the weekend though to help get things back up and running as safely and quickly as possible.