Rock County weathering effects of storm, outage
LUVERNE -- Rock County seems to be weathering the ice and snowstorm that blanketed southwest Minnesota about as well as its easterly neighbor, Nobles County.
After no one showed up at the emergency shelter Wednesday night at the Luverne Elementary School, Rock County Administrator Kyle Oldre announced Thursday afternoon that the shelter had closed.
The city of Luverne had power fully restored by 4 p.m. Wednesday, but electricity is out in the surrounding communities of Hills, Beaver Creek, Steen and Magnolia, and it may be four or five days yet before power is restored, Oldre said.
"We anticipate that's going to be a long pull," he added.
Alliant Energy has brought in 50 to 60 additional crew members to help restore power in the rural areas of Rock County. The power company had 90 poles in their system down, with another 50 poles down between the Sioux Valley Energy system and other providers.
Meanwhile, approximately 75 percent of the trees across Rock County have sustained some level of damage, whether branches and limbs fell or entire trees toppled.
"It will be really hard to tell what's coming back," Oldre said. "We can't see what's broken and what's drooping."
He encouraged residents to be safe and stay out from under trees.
"There's time to get out there and run the chainsaws," he said. "Take a breath; let Mother Nature take care of the thawing a little while."
With no electricity in the city of Hills, the Tuff Memorial Home is operating on generator power, but its assisted living facility had no way of keeping its heat or lights on. As a result, 30 residents were moved to the nursing home, and cots delivered from the state cache (stored in Montevideo and Marshall) were taken to Tuff Memorial Home for use by the elderly.
In addition, the Luverne National Guard Armory was opened to shelter the juveniles housed at Southwest Youth Services in Magnolia.
"They have roughly 30 juvenile residents and staff and they didn't have power," Oldre said. "We thought it would be best to have a shelter exclusively for them."
Because the request was made to use the Armory, Oldre said Gov. Mark Dayton had to announce an activation of the National Guard.
"Technically, the Guard is activated, but just to allow us access to the Armory," Oldre said. "They did put four Guard members in the Armory, and we have access to the ... small unit support vehicle (if needed.)"
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.