Region works to recover
WORTHINGTON -- Area counties are hard at work cleaning up fallen limbs and trees following this week's ice storm and snowstorm, and power companies continue reducing the number of residents without electricity.
Meanwhile, the Nobles County community of Ellsworth is still feeling the effects of storm, as the lack of electricity has affected the city's drinking water.
Unfiltered water had to be run through the city's water tower Wednesday to aid firefighters in battling a house fire, as the regular pumps that feed the tower were not working due to the electrical outage.
Ellsworth residents are asked not to drink the water, said an Ellsworth city employee, adding that boiling the water will not remove the contaminants. The water can be used for other purposes but not for drinking.
While Rock and Nobles counties were the hardest hit, counties throughout southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa were affected by the storm.
Murray County: Though large portions of Murray County were unaffected by the storm, Chandler and Fulda received significant damage.
"Basically, we've been business as usual," Murray County Emergency Management Director Jim Reinert said.
While there are still pockets of rural residents in Murray County without power, electricity has been restored to Chandler and to most of the residents of Fulda.
"There are still some that are having issues where the electric wires were pulled away from the house," Fulda City Clerk and Treasure Michelle Baumhoefner explained.
Cottonwood County: Emergency Management Director for Cottonwood County Kim Hall reported that as of Friday morning, there were still approximately 300 Cottonwood County residents without power.
"We also have a lot of branches and limbs down, but from when I've heard, it's not as extensive as Worthington -- but for us it still seems like a lot," she said.
Windom and Bingham Lake were the most affected communities, and Bingham Lake had power issues for an extended period of time.
Hall said the city of Windom will be cleaning debris from the boulevards as quickly as it can. Branches and limbs will be picked up from curbs on April 22.
"This is strictly for branches, brush and tree limbs," she said. "If piles have evidence of other materials in them, they will not pick them up."
Osceola County: In addition to downed trees and power outages, the Osceola County Sheriff's Department also suffered damage to their radio tower.
"Our radio service was compromised, and we were on backup radio during most of the storm," said Judy Top, head dispatch and jail administrator.
Trees within Ashton and Sibley were heavily damaged and the two power companies, REC and Alliant Energy, have been extremely busy restoring power to residents. They have pulled in outside crews to assist with the effort.
"On a more personal note, I would like to thank anyone and everyone who responded when I called - REC, Alliant, city crews, firemen of various counites, our EMA director," Top added. "They all came out to help with cleanup and emergencies during the storm."
O'Brien County: Sheldon Deputy Scott Degoei reported that Sheldon was without power for most of the day on Wednesday but, since then, electricity has remained constant.
The Sheldon Police Department did not have any major accidents or emergencies during the storm.
"Everything went as well as can be expected, considering how bad the weather was," Degoei said. "We're pleased with the results and we didn't have any injuries or major vehicle damage, either -- as far as I know."
Pipestone County: Pipestone County received between 10 to 14 inches of snow, "on top of the ice we got," County Sheriff Dan Delaney said, "but we were fortunate in the area compared to some of the other areas."
The county had some trees and limbs down and Edgerton, Jasper, Holland and Ruthton were without power for a short time. The city of Pipestone had no problems with utilities or electricity.
"The city will take care of limbs, but that wasn't a big issue for us," Delaney said. "Our only issue was that the courthouse was closed yesterday due to the heavy snow."
Jackson County: Heron Lake, Lakefield and Okabena were heavily affected by the storm.
"Most of the damage was, of course, downed power lines and downed trees," Emergency Management Director Jeff Johnson said. "We didn't have any damage to buildings, at least not that I've been made aware of."
Johnson said Federated Rural Electric still had about 1,000 households without power on Friday.
"We're just proud of the fact our community was able to support the efforts to clean up the area, and for the most part, the community has understood that it's going to take time to get lines up and the power crews are doing the best they can," he said.
Daily Globe Reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached at 376-7322.