Amid deep freeze, power restored to rural North Dakota homes: 'We just stayed under the covers'

"We just stayed under the covers and stayed warm, just like in the old days," said one resident who rode out the outage in his home, keeping warm with a propane tank and sunflower heater.

ice on lines kulm two
Ice coats power lines causing them to sag in the Kulm, N.D., area. Special to The Forum
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EDGELEY, N.D. — A day after ice and wind conspired to knock out power to about 1,800 homes in southeastern North Dakota, line workers have the electricity flowing again, exceeding expectations that the problem would persist for days.

Power outages affected customers of the Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative that serves Dickey, LaMoure and Sargent counties, and parts of Richland, Stutsman, Logan and McIntosh counties.

The epicenter of the outage appeared to center around Edgeley, a LaMoure County town with a population of about 563 people. Other hard-hit areas included Kulm, Montpelier and Gackle.

The buildup of ice twisted and broke power lines, and some utility poles fell down, Dakota Valley reported on its Facebook page.


Frost and ice on angel cemetery marker in Hague, ND. By Sabrina Hornung.jpg
Ice gathers on a cemetery marker in Hague, N.D. Sabrina Hornung / Special to The Forum

Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative warns customers they may not have power for days
Ice buildup causes power lines to sag. WDAY photo

ice kulm closeup
Ice coats a power line in the Kulm, N.D., area. Special to The Forum

Dennis Wilhelm and his wife Janet said they went two days without power in their farmhouse outside of Edgeley before electricity was restored late Thursday, Feb. 4. Despite having no generator or fireplace, temperatures inside their house rarely dipped below 65 degrees, Dennis Wilhelm said.

"We brought in a propane tank and sunflower heater, and I made breakfast, dinner and supper from that. Had candles lit for heat. This is part of life when you're living in the country," he said.

His one worry was that water systems for cattle would freeze, but they didn't, he said.


"We just stayed under the covers and stayed warm, just like in the old days. Like when I was a kid, we didn't have electricity until 1949, and everyone just crawled under the blankets to stay warm," he said.

Despite being without power for two days, Dennis Wilhelm doesn't plan on purchasing a generator. The last outage he remembers was in 2009, and another outage was in the 1970s where they lost electricity for half a day.

About 28 workers, including 10 from Legacy Construction in Wadena, Minn., worked late Thursday using fiberglass poles to clear ice from power lines, said Brad Lunneborg, Dakota Valley’s operation supervisor.

“Yesterday we were darn for sure in a fight, but we had a really good day yesterday and got all but 25 people back. Most of the frost cleared overnight, and the wind cleared up. We just got lucky,” Lunneborg said.

Most of the affected residents stayed home, Lunneborg said, because in rural areas many homes use generators.

“In this climate, that’s a really good thing to have," he said. "We can never predict what Mother Nature will be like."

powerlines with ice
Ice causes power lines to droop in western Dickey and LaMoure counties and parts of eastern McIntosh County. Special to The Forum


KEM Electric power supplier, a neighboring coop of Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative covered in frost and ice on Feb. 3.jpg
A site of the KEM Electric Cooperative, a neighboring utility of Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative, covered in frost and ice on Wednesday, Feb. 3. Special to The Forum

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