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February 02, 2010 10:31 PM

La Plant Still Without Power, Crews Still Working

It’s been two weeks without power for some in South Dakota.

The hard-hit FEM Electric and Moreau-Grand Electric cooperatives are still working to restore power to the last of their members still without electricity. Outages have been challenging for both co-ops and customers.

As crews make their way to his house near La Plant, Dick Burdeaux is more than excited to watch their progress. He's lost track of the days he's been in the dark.

"I can't take much more of that cold,” Burdeaux said. “I used to be able to take it in my younger days.”

But since those days are gone, Burdeaux is anxious to see his power back instead. That wish is echoed in the community of La Plant too. It has more than 20 elderly and nearly a hundred children, all in the dark.

Some people have been staying at a shelter in La Plant almost two weeks waiting for the power to come back on. It's a house with three bedrooms available and at times almost 30 people have been staying there.

"I want to get back home so bad," Cody Hill said. "It's just been stressful and exhausting.

Hill's spent nine days in the shelter with her kids. Crews have spent 14 days restoring power.

"This one was full-blown. Every piece of our service area saw damage," Moreau-Grand general manager Melissa Maher said.

The extent of the damage forced the Moreau-Grand Electric to tackle the problem by land and air. It assessed damage by plane, helicopter and on snowmobiles.

The co-op’s service area covers a lot of open space in three counties, with lines running through pastures and fields. County crews, the National Guard and locals with tractors and pay loaders do their part to clear snow, helping crews get to the downed poles and fix the lines leading to homes like Dick Burdeaux's.

"More than excited, I can take a shower," Burdeaux said.

Or at least he can once the crews are finally able to reach his house.

Moreau-Grand can't give a definite timeline but its goal is to have power restored to La Plant Wednesday.

Another challenge cooperatives have been facing during this outage is coordinating a large number of workers and supplies.
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