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Power fully restored following Memorial Day storms

At its peak, over 11,000 Crow Wing Power customers and 17,000 Minnesota Power customers were without power following the Monday, May 30, storm.

Trees knocked down in a storm.
Tree damage viewed from a drone in northern Crow Wing County following a Monday, May 30, thunderstorm.
Contributed / Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office
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BRAINERD — Crow Wing Power announced Friday, June 3, power had been restored for the remaining customers who had been without electricity following the Memorial Day thunderstorms.

At its peak, more than 11,000 Crow Wing Power customers and 17,000 Minnesota Power customers were without power following the Monday, May 30, storm. The severe storms also caused extensive tree and property damage and spawned several tornadoes in Minnesota, including one near Leader in Cass County. Both Crow Wing and Cass counties have issued emergency declarations in light of the damage.

Property damage caused by a severe thunderstorm.
An aerial view of property damage caused by a severe thunderstorm Monday, May 30, in northern Crow Wing County.
Contributed / Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office.

Crow Wing Power reported the last customers without power were restored at 8:23 p.m. Thursday.

The majority of the damage was north of Brainerd — from Leader to Pequot Lakes, Pine River, Crosslake, Fifty Lakes and Emily. However large numbers of power outages were north and east to Thunder Lake as well, Crow Wing Power reported.

John Bowen, Crow Wing County emergency management director, said Friday an assessment of damage in northern Crow Wing County would appear to be from straight line winds and not a tornado, but the sheriff’s office was awaiting official word from the National Weather Service in Duluth.

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Due to the severe damage left in the wake of the storm, Crow Wing Power reported restoring power took a massive team effort with an additional 38 contracted outside utility construction workers working side by side with Crow Wing Power crews. Sixty to 70 power line and field workers were on the ground throughout the week. Contractors included 13 linemen from Highline Construction; three from Skyline Utilities; 10 tree clearing men from New Age Tree Service; 10 linemen from Legacy Power Line and two from Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative.

The EF1 Tornado that went through Poplar Township in Cass County destroyed 14 power poles in a row, Crow Wing Power reported. In addition, strong winds left the power company needing to replace over 50 broken poles throughout the entire service area.

Aerial view of trees knocked over in a storm.
A view from a drone shows trees knocked over from the Monday, May 30, severe thunderstorm in northern Crow Wing County.
Contributed / Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office.

This storm caused the largest number of power outages at one time for Crow Wing Power since the major summer storms of 2015 and 2016 and it topped the total number of people without during those disastrous events.

On July 12, 2015, straight line winds damaged a dense 24 square mile swath of land north of Brainerd. It took four days for Crow Wing Power to restore power to 9,000 people. On July 21, 2016, a strong storm caused wide-spread destruction putting 10,000 people without power, some for almost six days.

“Our crews and outside contractors were put to the test and their perseverance paid off,” said Char Kinzer, Crow Wing Power public relations manager. “Our hats are tipped to the men in the field who worked diligently, to the many support employees that worked long hours, handled phone calls, dispatched, delivered materials to crews and prepared and delivered food so men in the field could keep working.

“We are very grateful for the overwhelming messages of support and understanding from Cooperative members and for the patience people showed for enduring lengthy periods of time without electricity.”

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