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Power outage in Slayton, Currie, Lake Wilson

SLAYTON -- The Slayton, Currie and Lake Wilson areas were without power Wednesday beginning at about 9:30 a.m., according to Nobles Co-op Electric.

"The underbuild was galloping up transmission lines and hitting. Basically, that means the lines were flopping in the wind and slapping into each other," line superintendent Jerry Mausbach said. "They got it isolated and performed repairs."

By 11 a.m. or so, power had been restored, Mausbach said.

The "galloping" isn't uncommon when winds are high and even a small amount of ice is on the lines.

Over at Murray County Medical Center, Director of Environmental Services Arl Weinrebe was having a busy morning.

"We held our own for the three hours the power was out," he said at 11:30 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health requires that the hospital have the capacity to run a generator for a prescribed amount of hours.

"We can sustain ourselves for 96 hours, but after 70 hours we start looking for fuel," Weinrebe added.

The generator supports critical areas of the hospital and clinic -- heating systems, emergency rooms, ICU, the outlets on the nursing floor, telephones, emergency lighting and the surgical block, along with the entire IT system and servers.

"The business office drops off, but they can still use their computers," Weinrebe explained. "X-ray drops off, but that's because we have a portable X-ray machine that can be plugged in."

Although the power is diverted from electric lines to the generators automatically, the switching back and forth can cause some equipment to shut off and on, which Weinrebe said is hard on the equipment itself.

"But everything went pretty smoothly," he reported, adding that one major surgery had to be cancelled. "Oops, just lost power again. Gotta go!"

MCMC is planning a large expansion and remodel project that, when finished, will allow the generator to support the entire hospital.

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