Cleaning up the mess

John Kubal/Register: After three days of wicked weather brought on by Winter Storm Wesley, snow removal became job No. 1 in downtown Brookings. In the 300 block of Fifth Street, crews from the Street and Forestry departments teamed up to meet the challenge of removing heavy, wet snow.

BROOKINGS – About 8.5 inches of snow fell in Brookings during this week’s blizzard, according to the National Weather Service.

That report came from a climate station on the South Dakota State University campus, according to the NWS office in Sioux Falls, but there were reports of 9 inches of snow 2 miles southeast of Astoria and 14.5 inches 5 miles west of Bruce.

The snow presented a challenge for Brookings County residents, with a no travel advisory issued and government offices closed in the county, according to Brookings County Development Department Director and Emergency Manager Bob Hill.

A parking ban was in effect in Brookings since Wednesday evening, until roads were cleared of snow from curb to curb Friday.

As of Friday morning, Hill hadn’t heard any word about public damages from the blizzard, but he recommended that those with heart and health issues abstain from shoveling this snow, as it is heavy, and get help from someone else if possible.

He added that this snowfall will worsen flooding once it melts, so he recommended people document any damages to go along with other flood damage reporting.

“The blizzard and the rainfall in March, it all goes along with that, it’s all going to be rolled into the same damage assessment program. Townships should include all this damage, too,” Hill said.

Thirty households serviced by Sioux Valley Energy in Brookings County were without power as of Friday morning as well, and had been without power for about 40 hours due to the weather, Carrie Vugteveen, director of communications and government relations for Sioux Valley Energy, said.

Sioux Valley Energy has a service territory of 6,000 square miles, and almost half of that has been damaged – as much as 2,500 square miles. According to a press release, they’ve found 375 broken poles and expect that number to climb as their crews continue to patrol their lines. At the height of the storm, as many as 9,500 of their members were without power; that number had gone down to about 4,500 by midday Friday.

They urge people to stay away from any downed power lines they come across and not to drive over them.

They note that conditions are challenging due to significant ice buildup and inaccessible roads, but they are working hard to restore power. 

“We have over 30 line workers out working on the outages. It will be 40 soon. … Rest assured, we are working on it,” Vugteveen said.

Contact Eric Sandbulte at [email protected]

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