Blizzard damage 'unprecedented,' Montana-Dakota Utilities says; thousands still without power

AMY R. SISK and BLAKE NICHOLSON Bismarck Tribune

A weekend blizzard that brought snow, rain, ice and strong winds to western North Dakota downed hundreds and possibly thousands of electrical poles, destruction that might be among the worst ever seen.

“The damage we have assessed so far is unprecedented. It’s the worst damage Montana-Dakota Utilities has had on its system,” spokesman Mark Hanson said. “We have hundreds of cross arms broken and miles of poles down.”

MDU’s history dates to 1924.

The utility will have at least 15 crews — up to 60 workers — in northwestern North Dakota this week, possibly more if aerial surveys Monday show even more damage than anticipated.

“We’ll get a look at the lines our crews could not view from the ground,” Hanson said.

Thousands out

At one point during the two-day blizzard MDU had about 18,000 customers in western North Dakota and eastern Montana without power. By late afternoon Monday that figure had been cut to about 1,300, according to the utility’s outage map and

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