A group of East River Electric Power Cooperative employees returned home Wednesday after more than a week in the Black Hills, where they helped restore power to homes and businesses after the devastating snowstorm.
East River's crew members from Madison, Aberdeen, Brandon, Beresford and Miller spent 10 days, mostly in the Custer area, helping Black Hills Electric Cooperative replace downed power poles, restore lines and get the power back on.
Three East River workers are currently helping Grand Electric Cooperative in northwestern South Dakota, and eight more will travel to western South Dakota Thursday (today) to assist West River Electric Association in its effort to repair lines and poles.
"The damage is widespread," said Larry DeKramer, East River's transmission, substation and dispatch manager. "Our crews have worked alongside Black Hills Electric and Grand Electric to get the lines back up. Their work was really hampered by the snow, mud and rain."
An estimated 20,000 electric cooperative members across the Black Hills lost power after the blizzard dumped several feet of snow in places, snapping as many as 6,300 power poles and causing damage to lines and other infrastructure across the area.