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Power outages 'tiresome' for area homeowners

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FARGO - About 3,116 Xcel Energy customers in Fargo and West Fargo remained without electricity at 10:20 p.m. Tuesday, after a peak of 39,000 customers lost power during Monday night's storm, the company reported.

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Xcel spokeswoman Bonnie Lund said most metro customers - the utility serves areas of Fargo, West Fargo and Dilworth - were expected to have power restored Tuesday night. But with repairs to be made in more than 170 spots, some customers will likely be without power into this afternoon, she said.

"There is a lot of work to go," Lund said. "It will be a long, slow process."

Charlie Olson stayed home from work Tuesday to monitor his Fargo home on 15th Street South that was without power.

He spent the day moving his generator around to keep the sump pump going and keep the freezer cold.

Across the street, Sue Nieland closed her home day care because of the power outage and borrowed a generator to keep the sump pump running.

The family didn't have a generator overnight, and her husband spent the night bailing water to keep the basement dry.

Some residents on their street had power restored on Tuesday, but Olson and Nieland weren't expecting to have power until today.

"It just gets really tiresome after a while," Olson said.

Lund said she understands people's frustration with the outage duration, but the damage was very extensive throughout the area, and crews are diligently working to repair lines.

An additional 27 line crews, six tree-trimming crews and a dozen support personnel were coming to the area to help, Lund said.

Xcel crews had repaired all main feeder lines and are working on repairing secondary lines to neighborhoods, said Mark Nisbet, Xcel's principal manager for North Dakota.

"Just because of the amount of trees and wires pulled down, it's not easy," he said.

If the storm damaged the customer's overhead mast - a pipe-like housing that connects service wires to a home's meter - the customer must contact an electrician for repairs before Xcel can reconnect service, Lund said.

Xcel urged anyone who saw a downed power line to stay away and call (800) 895-1999 to report it. The line may still be live and dangerous even if power is out to the area, the utility said.

Fargo Police Chief Keith Ternes said at one point Tuesday, about a dozen intersection signals - mostly along South University Drive and 10th Street - were dark because of power outages.

Ternes urged drivers to take care in intersections without working signals by treating them as four-way stops. He expected most signals to be working again Tuesday night or early today.

Cass County Electric Cooperative spokeswoman Carrie Carney said all of its customers had power by 9:10 p.m. Tuesday. At one point, more than 7,600 members were without power.

Carney said the Kindred-area substation was being back-fed, and the co-op asks members in the area to conserve electricity until substations are restored. Crews replaced about 20 to 25 downed utility poles on Tuesday.

CCEC customers who experience a power outage should call (701) 356-4499.

Electricity had been restored to all but about a dozen Moorhead Public Service customers by 8 a.m. Tuesday, General Manager Bill Schwandt said. Power was restored to the remaining customers by Tuesday afternoon.

A large transmitter line for the Western Area Power Administration on 52nd Avenue South in Fargo was lost just before 9 p.m. Monday, causing an outage across Moorhead for 20 minutes until power could be rerouted to bypass the feeder line, Schwandt said.

Forum reporters Amy Dalrymple and Dave Roepke contributed this report.

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