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Utilities officials tally cost of ice storm damage in southern Minnesota

"When it was all said and done, many of the areas of our county looked like a war zone, with trees down, large power poles down in huge groups," said Steve Sandvik, Mower County's sheriff.

Posted: Apr. 21, 2019 8:51 AM

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. (AP) — Electricity has been restored for nearly all of the thousands of Minnesota residents who lost power after a late winter storm that pummeled power lines with ice, snow and 50-mph winds.

But now state officials are bracing for the recovery costs as utilities and local governments tally up their expenses from the blizzard last week, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

"When it was all said and done, many of the areas of our county looked like a war zone, with trees down, large power poles down in huge groups," said Steve Sandvik, Mower County's sheriff.

He said it's unbelievable that no one was injured or killed in the storm.

Roughly 2,000 utility poles were damaged across southern Minnesota, leaving more than 15,000 homes and businesses without power.

Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services counted about 750 of its utility poles were either broken or downed, said spokeswoman Mary Nelson. The electric utility sought help from other cooperatives, which sent about 150 additional linemen to repair damaged poles, she said.

"I would not even be able to guess at the large number of the cost (of) this storm, but it would be in excess of millions," Nelson said.

Gov. Tim Walz announced that he plans to seek federal disaster relief assistance.

Joe Kelly, the state's director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said it may take weeks for utilities and local officials to add up their expenses, including equipment and overtime pay.

Kelly said he's fairly certain that the total damages will exceed $8 million, which is the threshold to qualify for federal disaster assistance.

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