WDAY: The News Leader

Published October 27, 2010, 09:44 AM

First taste of winter leaves many without power

Breckenridge, Minn. (WDAY TV) - Our first taste of winter has left its mark on the region. Thousands of homes are still without power today in Wilkin and Otter Tail Counties. Linemen are working non-stop to repair down poles to get power to those rural homes.

Any other day, Wayne Leinen would be hard at work at his home just east of Breckenridge. He fixes small engines, right now mostly snow blowers.

"Rushed for a month, six weeks, then it'll start slowing down."

Leinen woke up to no power. He has a generator that's just big enough to partially power the house.

"It is for a couple refrigerator outlets in the kitchen and for the microwave. I got to have coffee, you know."

Leinen's been working on small engines nearly his whole life. So long it's became more of a hobby than work, so no power in the shop means there is no fun today.

"No heat, no air compressor, no nothing. So I just take a day off."

Leinens power comes from Lake Region Electric; the company serves rural homes in Wilkin and Otter Tail counties. At its peak the company had about 4 thousand homes without power.

"Yeah this is as bad as it gets. This is a main feeder. They're coming out of here and there's a double circuit going north. When they're on the ground it's pretty serious."

Since last night, crews have been working to fix the problem. The company has about 75 poles down after last night’s storm.

"We're kind of used to this, we kind of gear up for it. This isn't really bad as if it was 20 below and that wind right there."

Leinen is hoping he has power by tonight or tomorrow morning because for someone who enjoys work there's nothing worse then sitting and watching the rain. Leinen says he worked on his first small engine at the age of 10.

The substation at Everdale, between Breckenridge and Fergus Falls, was completely down. It was so badly damaged; crews are only bandaging things back together.

A permanent fix is expected to take weeks to a month. Workers say what they're doing to fix it today, wouldn't stand a chance to hold through winter.

“And we're working as fast as we can, but it's widespread throughout our territory which is Wilkin and Otter tail counties so all of our crews are out working and a lot of other people as well.”

Extra help for the downed poles is coming in from South Dakota.