Weather Forecast


Power now restored to most of western Minn. after storm

BIRD ISLAND -- The people of Bird Island have electricity again, but will spend the coming weeks and months cleaning up fallen trees and repairing damaged buildings.

"It's going to take all year to get this back," City Councilman Jim Schneider said Monday evening. "There's a lot of work to do yet before we get this cleaned up."

Damage caused by Friday afternoon's storms caused one person to be displaced from their home, Schneider said. The woman wasn't hurt when a 2-by-6 piece of lumber smashed through her roof, he said, but cannot stay in the damaged townhouse.

A machine shed and bins on the southeast corner of town were also damaged, he said. Other than those structures, the rest of the town sustained tree and roof damage, with many houses missing shingles. Damage in the country includes many damaged grain bins, barns and steel sheds, Schneider said.

City personnel will begin picking up tree branches for removal today, he added, and will add that tree debris to the "mountain" that citizens already removed to the city brush site.

"It was a very working Fourth of July," he said. "But, no one was injured, that's the main thing."

Two people were reportedly injured in Meeker County due to the storms, according to the Meeker County Sheriff's Office. A person suffered minor cuts from large hailstones breaking the windshield of their vehicle and a person fell from a ladder while cutting trees from the storm. The person was taken by ambulance to Meeker Memorial Hospital.

Storm damage included major damage to two homes, a shed and two barns in the Cosmos area. Buildings were damaged west and south of Litchfield and in Dassel. Power lines were down in Dassel, causing traffic to be rerouted on U.S. Highway 12. Train traffic was held up in the Watkins area due to a broken power pole leaning toward the Canadian Pacific rail line.

According to Xcel Energy, as of 9 p.m. Monday, a small number of customers in Lake Lillian, Cosmos and Danube remained without power.

A total of 142,000 Xcel customers lost power during the Friday afternoon and evening storms, according to a news release. The power company had a total of 171 workers in the field and power was expected to be restored to all customers whose homes can accept power by the end of Monday. Some homes may require further repair at the point of service by an electrician before Xcel can restore power.

In the Belview, Cosmos, Hector and Bird Island areas, all of the transmission lines and substations were energized, but crews were working to replace more than 100 broken poles and the associated damaged equipment. A total of 96 linemen were working in very difficult, muddy conditions that were restricting access to restoring service. The other 75 workers were in the St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids area, replacing between 30 and 40 downed poles.

In addition to the power lines that serve customers, Xcel crews must also repair the transmission lines that move power from the wind farms on Buffalo Ridge, which sustained extensive damage. That work could take as long as a month.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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