In for the long haul? Some places could be without power until Monday

Published 6:52 am Saturday, April 13, 2019

Several areas in Mower and Freeborn counties are still without power and some areas could be without until early next week.

This week’s storm blew down power lines across the two-county area Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services covers, leaving many communities powerless. Freeborn County was particularly hard hit and in the midst of this, three shelters throughout the county in Clarks Grove, Alden and Albert Lea.

Several communities in Mower are also dealing with extensive outages, including Lyle, Udolpho, Sargeant and Waltham Townships.

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According to Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services CEO Jim Krueger, about 3,700 customers in Mower and Freeborn Counties were without power as of 10 a.m. on Friday.

“We estimate about 500 poles either broke or tipped over due to soft soil,” Krueger said of the damage in Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services’ coverage area. “To get full system restoration, we’re probably looking at next week, maybe very late Monday or Tuesday. It’s been a challenge due to the magnitude of this storm and the area it impacted.”

Krueger added that Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services has been reaching out to additional crew members to aid in the power restoration effort, having added an additional 41 workers by Friday afternoon.

For more information, follow Freeborn-Mower Cooperative at where a continually updating outage map is available, or visit them on Facebook.

Members of the 224th Transportation Company based out of Austin block off 195th Street north of Rose Creek Friday morning. The National Guard, on authorization from Gov. Tim Walz, had been deployed since about 9 p.m. Thursday night. Eric Johnson/

State of emergency declared in Mower County

Gov. Tim Walz declared a state of emergency in Mower County at the request of Mower County Sheriff Steve Sandvik.

“A state of emergency is any event that taxes resources beyond their limits,” Sandvik said. “We quickly outran our resources.”

Sandvik said that 22 areas of Mower County reported downed power lines, including several with multiple poles carrying high voltage transmission lines. Because of the danger posed by downed power lines, Sandvik had deputies setting up barricades to prevent motorists from driving near live wires. By declaring a state of emergency, the National Guard can be utilized to assist. Sandvik said guardsmen are being used to man the barricades, allowing Mower County deputies to respond to emergencies.

“Do not drive past barricades,” Sandvik warned. “The poles may have snapped, but some of the power lines have not been cut and are still active. There is a danger from live wires, even 20 yards away, due to the wet ground.”

“Keep safety in mind,” Krueger said. “If you see or are around downed power lines, be careful and keep your distance.”

Sandvik also said that power crews are working diligently to restore power and repair downed lines and road closures can be expected to continue while crews do their work.

The Mower County Board convened for an emergency session on Friday afternoon, where Sandvik shared information and updates on how Mower County was currently recovering from the aftermath.

The sheriff advised the public not to call 911 for power outages and tying up the lines of the dispatch center, who may be responding to other emergencies. For power issues, Sandvik said the best thing would be to call Freeborn-Mower Cooperative.

Also present was Minnesota National Guard Sgt. First Class Jeff Dahlen, who explained that the armory was not open as a shelter to the public because it was already preoccupied by 140 national guard soldiers at the ready and would not be feasible.

“We are doing the best we can,” Dahlen said. “We’re here to help support the sheriff and protect the citizens of Mower County as best as we can.”

Power poles lay on their sides, snapped off due to the high winds and ice that came with this week’s storm. The poles stretched for several miles along Highway 56 between Interstate 90 and Rose Creek. Eric Johnson/

Shelters open for powerless

Lyle City Hall opened as an emergency shelter thanks to a back-up generator that restored power to the building.

“We can easily hold 100 people,” said Mayor Gary Harrison.

The power outage caused Lyle Public School to close Thursday and Friday. It also closed the Freeborn County Co-Op Oil gas station, meaning residents needing gasoline will need to go to Austin or St. Ansgar temporarily.

Food is available for purchase at Lyle Liquor, which also has power due to a back-up generator.

Harrison has requested that residents try to conserve their water supply.

“In a situation like this, we don’t know when we’ll have power back and we don’t want to use up our water supply,” he said.

Despite the situation, Harrison said Lyle residents are pulling together.

“We have neighbors helping neighbors, and that’s number one in our town,” he said.

Those who need to utilize the Lyle City Hall can visit the Lyle Area Announcements/Questions Page on Facebook  ( or call Harrison at 507-440-6740.

Over in Hayfield, Trinity Lutheran Church has also been hard at work serving as a shelter for those in need of a safe, warm place to go.

Pastor Paul Hauschild said that between 18 to 20 people have come by to use the church as a place to power up their phones, cook meals in the kitchen and get some rest. Having a back-up generator, the church and the Hayfield Fire Hall will serve the community as shelters if power doesn’t return.

As of Friday morning, Hauschild shared that parts of town were still out of electricity. With cold temperatures sneaking in, he believed that more people would likely use the shelters to warm themselves. In the almost 11 years that he has served Trinity Lutheran, this is the first time Hauschild has used the church as a shelter.

So far, the community has been offering supplies to the church such as food and water, and contacting Hauschild to see if there’s anything more they can do to help.

“It’s nice to have some place like this and have people come and know there’s a place to go to for help,” he said. “People have been really stepping up. I feel very supported by the community.”

Handicapped individuals in need of assistance can contact the Salvation Army at 507-437-4566.

Emergency shelters also opened in three other Dodge County communities. People are asked to bring pillows, blankets, cellphone and charger, according to the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department.

Early Thursday evening, the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office put on their Facebook that Dodge County officials declared a State of Emergency. Over 4,340 homes were without power Thursday afternoon.