Twin Cities unplugged by wicked storm

  • Article by: ASHA ANCHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 20, 2012 - 12:17 AM

Up to 100,000 electricity customers cut off; water systems were affected, and repair crews tried to catch up.

Twin Cities residents facing a second day without power Wednesday waited anxiously for crews to repair damage left by violent storms that plowed through the Twin Cities.

A new wave of storms expected to rumble through the area early Wednesday threatened to complicate those efforts, as another 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches of rain was expected to soak an already saturated landscape, said National Weather Service forecaster Tony Zaleski. Gusts of 58 miles per hour or more and 1-inch hail could hit some areas, he said.

Tuesday, an overnight storm packing wind gusting up to 80 mph downed trees, knocked out electricty to more than 100,000 homes and businesses and caused problems for some municipal water supplies.

Xcel Energy reported Tuesday night that it had restored power to all but about 4,000 customers and hoped to have everyone back online by 11 p.m. Wednesday. Most outages were in the east and south metro, concentrated in South St. Paul, Hastings, Burnsville and Lakeville.

More than 10,000 Dakota Electric Association customers across Dakota, Goodhue, Rice and Scott counties were in the dark early Tuesday, but that number was whittled to 500 by Tuesday afternoon. All the power was to be restored Tuesday night.

A water advisory was issued in West St. Paul, urging residents to temporarily refrain from using tap water. Power outages resulted in low water pressure, which makes it easier for harmful bacteria to enter the water.

In Burnsville, the city's water treatment plant operated on an emergency generator until mid-afternoon Tuesday; the city said water remained safe for drinking. Officials estimated about 75 trees were down, some blocking streets.

In Lakeville, city crews worked to clear toppled trees and branches from roads, especially in the northeastern and southern sections. Some trees fell on homes and vehicles, according to a statement from the city. No injuries were reported.

Sirens did not sound in Lakeville, prompting the Dakota Communications Center to investigate. City officials also checked a mobile home park where several homes were damaged.

Power outages also made it harder to get relief from the heat. The Ramsey County-owned water park, Battle Creek Waterworks, and St. Paul's Highland Aquatic Center were closed Tuesday. Asked when the pool will reopen, spokesman Brad Meyer said, "We don't know."

A flash flood watch is in effect for large portions of Minnesota through Wednesday and the State Patrol closed portions of Hwy. 61 between Duluth and Two Harbors due to flooding Tuesday night.

Staff writers Susan Feyder and Rochelle Olson contributed to this report. Asha Anchan • 612-673-4154

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