SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Over the last few weeks, residents in eastern South Dakota have experienced severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and a derecho. In addition to damage, power outages have become frequent especially for one Sioux Falls neighborhood.
The McKennan Park neighborhood is just one of many that has experienced damage to homes and uprooted trees. But power outages have been frustrating residents of the neighborhood as some have gone days without power multiple times in recent weeks.
Julie Robinette and her family live in the McKennan Park neighborhood and lost power during both the May 12 storm and the Memorial Day storms. During the derecho, Robinette’s home took more than two days to restore power.
“It was 51 hours, not that anyone was counting,” Robinette said.
As of this morning, her home was still without power following the storms over the holiday weekend. While it’s frustrating to go so long without power, Robinette said the most frustrating part has been the lack of communication with Xcel Energy.
“It was just kind of the not knowing. We didn’t hear anything from Xcel,” Robinette said. “We’re constantly getting notices that we don’t have an outage or it’s going to be fixed in a couple hours’ time.”
Stuart Thill is also a resident of the McKennan Park neighborhood and lost power during this week’s storms. Thill expressed frustration with the lack of communication and general messages from Xcel that didn’t provide accurate information to his neighborhood.
“It gets a little frustrating,” Thill said. “I think the biggest frustration for everybody is the no answer stuff. Like, give us something, don’t leave us hanging there.”
Because Thill works from home, the power outage affected his workday, and he had no clear idea of when power might be restored to his home. Originally, Xcel told Thill the power would be back by no later than 9:30 p.m. on Monday evening.
Instead, he didn’t have power in his home until early Tuesday afternoon.
A representative with Xcel Energy told KELOLAND News that approximately 30,000 customers experienced an outage due to Monday’s storms and trees falling onto power lines. More than 1,200 employees were dispatched in the Sioux Falls area to restore power.
When KELOLAND News spoke with Robinette late Tuesday morning, she still had not had power restored to her home. Instead, she and her family were staying with relatives in Sioux Falls to wait it out. But, she added, the cost does add up as her family has lost groceries to the outages in both storms.
Robinette and Thill aren’t the only frustrated residents. A McKennan Park Facebook page has been filled with posts and comments expressing dissatisfaction with the lack of communication between energy providers and residents who continue to be affected by power outages. For some, the outages lasted up to six days in central Sioux Falls.
Robinette said that the infrequent and inaccurate communication has made her wonder whether Xcel has forgotten about the residents of the neighborhood.
“When you start having these long-term outages for residents, I feel like there should be better communication,” Robinette said.
According to Xcel Energy’s outage map, there are more than 90 outages in the Sioux Falls area affecting more than 900 customers.