Northwest Minn. counties lose power in dangerously low temps

After a brief outage, power was restored in Hawley, Minn., late Tuesday, Jan. 29. WDAY photo
After a brief outage, power was restored in Hawley, Minn., late Tuesday, Jan. 29. WDAY photo

EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. — Several northwest Minnesota communities are without power in dangerously low temperatures brought by the polar vortex.

Outages were reported in a number of towns in Polk and Mahnomen Counties Tuesday night, Jan. 29, east of Grand Forks. The Minnesota towns of Winger, McIntosh, Erskine, Waubun and Bejou have all been without power and heat since 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. It is unclear at this time how many customers are affected.

Otter Tail Power said it doesn't know when power will be restored on what is turning out to be one of the coldest nights in decades.

The city of Hawley also lost electricity for about an hour Tuesday night. About 40 percent of the city lost power, leaving people to scramble for heat and forcing businesses to close.

The public works department thinks they have fixed the problem, but not before it sent a bone-chilling scare through the community.

"It's frightening, it's not a good thing, especially living in a mobile home — pipes start freezing real quick," said resident Kyle Johnson. "I was at work and had to rush home and make sure the family is OK."

The Polk County Sheriff was not sure if any shelters would be set up. None are planned for Mahnomen County.

The cause of the power outages is still unknown.