Power back on for some, others could go without until Thursday
Sounds of tree debris cleanup, chainsaws and generators in Duluth's Woodland neighborhood Sunday morning were overpowered by Lowell Lyons cranking his father's World War II air raid siren.His daughter had just run out of their house to tell him t...
Sounds of tree debris cleanup, chainsaws and generators in Duluth’s Woodland neighborhood Sunday morning were overpowered by Lowell Lyons cranking his father’s World War II air raid siren.
His daughter had just run out of their house to tell him the good news. After four days of waiting, the power was back on.
“Crank it!” he said to his daughter Lyvia as she spun the siren crank.
“I thought, no better way to celebrate than let everybody know,” he said.
Lyons’ neighbor joined in the celebration with whooping and hollering. Her power turned back on as well.
During Thursday’s storm, a 90-foot maple tree fell in Lyons’ backyard, ripping two down power lines. Lyons used two generators throughout the week to keep refrigerators cold and to warm up water.
Although Lyons and his neighbors had power again, Minnesota Power spokeswoman Amy Rutledge, said thousands of people could be without power until Thursday, with most of those customers in the hardest-hit neighborhoods of Duluth - Woodland, Morley Heights, Hunters Park and Lakeside. As of 9:30 Sunday evening, about 5,600 customers were without power, according to the company’s website.
Tim Laeupple, superintendent of the Minnesota Power line department, said restoring power is taking longer than expected because crews had to fix power lines in phases. Crews fixed transmission lines running from the generator plants, lines connecting to area substations and then district energy feeders. Now they will focus on specific neighborhoods, Laeupple said.
Many of the power poles in these neighborhoods are in backyards, where power line trucks are unable to reach them, Laeupple said. As a result, he said lineworkers must fix these by hand.
“Any time we do backyard work, it probably takes twice as long, maybe more,” Laeupple said. “We’ve tried to energize as many people as possible.”
Shelley Jones of Hunters Park said she hosted her daughter’s high school graduation party despite having been without power since the storm.
The party was Hawaii-themed for her daughter Carly Jones, a Duluth East graduate who will move to Hawaii in January. Carly said she was thankful her party was not canceled.
“It was a big team effort,” she said.
In preparation for the party, the family scoured Duluth to collect 12 bags of ice for drinks and to keep food they had not already thrown away cool. Shelley’s sister changed the party menu last minute so they could put food to use instead of tossing it.
“We’re just going to make this a big adventure,” Shelley said. “We told everyone to bring a flashlight and a cooler with ice.”
Besides hosting a grad party without power and the laundry piling up, Shelley said one of the biggest challenges of going without electricity for four days is that she and her husband both work from home. She said she expects an increase in her cellphone bill for streaming this month, since they do not have Wi-Fi.
“Thank God for cellphones, because you can still work,” she said. “I could live without electricity. I couldn’t live without water.”
Duluth Bible Church in Hunters Park held Sunday service as usual, despite the power outage.
Dennis Rokser, senior pastor, said he gave Sunday’s sermon over a P.A. system in a room cooled by fans, thanks to a few generators.
“Everyone seemed relaxed, and there was enough light,” Rokser said.
Rokser happened to be in the middle of a sermon series about people’s God-given gifts, which he said he adapted to relate to congregants helping each other in the storm’s aftermath. Congregation member Randy Zempel said he saw concepts from that sermon in action this week while organizing church members for a storm cleanup effort.
“You have to take it in stride,” Zempel said of the power outage. “A reaction is never good. You always want to respond.”
Despite the joy Lyons showed when the power turned back on at his house, he said he will miss the standstill atmosphere of the power outage - an atmosphere that brought his family and neighbors closer together.
“When the power is working, it doesn’t seem there’s as much as a sense of community,” Lowell said. “It’s unfortunate that it takes a small catastrophe like this … to bring everyone together.”
Lake Country Power
Lake Country Power reported more than 3,000 customers without power as of Sunday evening. “Power line corridors are littered with trees down, and we have at least 200 broken poles that still need to be replaced,” LCP Director of Operations Todd Johnson said in a statement, adding that it could be "well into this week" before some LCP customers see power restored.
County to assess damage
Later this week, officials from the St. Louis County Assessor’s Office will visit areas affected by the storm to assess damage to individual properties. Storm damage to structures could affect the value of a property, possibly making the owner eligible for a tax credit or abatement.
Damage to property other than structures - such as vehicles or trees - will not affect the value of the property.
The Assessor’s Office encourages residents with questions or concerns to contact the office at (218) 726-2304 or visit stlouiscountymn.gov . Ely residents should call (218) 365-8206 for an assessment.