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Power back on for many after storm, Atwater still without power

Briana Sanchez / Tribune Matt Blumhoefer, left, and Rori Stafford, right, work on a car part by flashlight and sunlight Monday, June 12, at Blake's Auto Repair in Atwater. Blake's was one of the businesses in Atwater that lost power early Sunday because of the severe weather. Blake Schroeder, owner, said they were still open but they were only working on projects they could do without power. The garage doors were both open at the shop so Blumhoefer and Stafford could get some work done without light.1 / 6
Briana Sanchez / Tribune Peaceful Thymes, gifts, garden center and espresso bar is closed Monday, June 12, in Atwater. Peaceful Thymes is one of several business in the area that have been without power since Sunday morning. Owner Elsie Kashmark said she had to completely empty her refrigerators since she did not have power to keep them running.2 / 6
Briana Sanchez / Tribune The United States Postal Service is still open Monday, June 12, in Atwater. The post office was still receiving and sending out mail but they were only accepting cash and checks because the power was out.3 / 6
Briana Sanchez / Tribune Peaceful Thymes, gifts, garden center and espresso bar is closed Monday, June 12, in Atwater. Peaceful Thymes is one of several business in the area that have been without power since Sunday morning. Owner Elsie Kashmark said she had to completely empty her refrigerators since she did not have power to keep them running.4 / 6
Briana Sanchez / Tribune Rori Stafford fixes a tire Monday, June 12, at Blake's Auto Repair in Atwater. Stafford was working on projects he could complete without power tools.5 / 6
Briana Sanchez / Tribune Peaceful Thymes, gifts, garden center and espresso bar was closed Monday, June 12, in Atwater. Peaceful Thymes is one of several business in the area that have been without power since Sunday morning.6 / 6

ATWATER — The severe storms that blew through the region Sunday morning knocked out power for hundreds of residents and businesses. While most power had been restored by Monday night pockets remained, most notably in Atwater, where the entire city had been without power since around 7:30 a.m. Sunday.

Randy Fordice, Xcel Energy media relations, said damage to a transmission line has caused the delay in getting the city's power back up and running. Approximately 76 Xcel employees were working in the area Monday afternoon repairing the down lines and broken poles, with the hope to get the power back on in Atwater by Tuesday morning.

"It's not the kind of thing you can just flip a fuse," Fordice said.

While some businesses in town were closed Monday, others were making due.

"We figure we could still do it the old fashion way, with hand tools and jacks," Blake Schroeder said, owner of Blake's Auto Repair of Atwater.

Schroeder said he and his employees were busy Monday, repairing generators so others in town could have some sort of electricity. Schroeder himself only had one generator running at his shop, to keep the phone and computer going.

"We're making it work," Schroeder said, while hoping power comes back on sooner rather than later.

A large swath of Kandiyohi Power Cooperative's coverage area was without power after the storm, with the most damage taking place around Pennock, Kandiyohi and Atwater.

"A lot of trees tangled in the lines," said Diane Maurice, marketing and customer service manager for the cooperative. There were also downed poles and lines along with damage at the Willmar substation. Maurice said about 25 power poles had to be replaced and transmission lines needed to be repaired.

There was an issue at the Spicer, Pennock and Kandiyohi substations, where a safety protocol caused the stations to shut down.

By Sunday evening there were still about 250 customers without power, and by Monday afternoon that number was down to a few dozen. Maurice said everyone in the Kandiyohi Power Association coverage area should have power restored by Monday evening.

"It is coming along. That is thanks to our contractors," who came out to help, Maurice said.

Meeker Cooperative Light & Power Association reported on its Facebook page at about 2:30 p.m. Monday that power should have been restored by Monday night.

"Crews are working hard but keep running into more downed poles. While we are down to 92 meters without power, it's slow going replacing poles, cutting branches and repairing widespread individual outages. Work is still progressing on a transmission line," the social media post read.

Otter Tail Power Company reported several towns were affected by the storm, including Canby, Dawson, Holloway, Kerkhoven, Pennock and Sunburg. By Monday afternoon most of the power had been restored.

The city of Willmar was spared major disruption for the most part. About 10 poles fell down, along with feeder lines, around County Road 5 and 15th Avenue near Ridgewater College, which caused outages.

"Everyone was back on by 10 p.m." Sunday, said Todd Graves, Willmar Municipal Utilities line department supervisor at Monday's utilities commission meeting. Utilities crews were out Monday replacing the fallen poles.

The power plant itself sustained damage, after it was struck by lightning, knocking out the control panel for boiler 3. The plant operators cut fuel to the boiler to shut it down. Director of Electric Production Jon Folkedahl told the commission the boiler would be back online Tuesday morning, after being inspected. There were also a few broken windows and a flooded coal pit, but overall the damage was minor, causing few delays, Folkedahl said.

"I want to thank you and your staff for getting out there," Commission chairperson Carol Laumer said.

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