ALBERT LEA, Minn. (KTTC) -- The cleanup process in Freeborn County has been slow due to hundreds of fallen trees. As of Friday afternoon, Alliant Energy reported about 100 customers were still without power. According to Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services, more than 280 residents were still in the dark. New problems began to arise for crews on Friday as they tried to restore power to remaining customers.
According to Alliant Energy, many of the remaining houses in the dark had suffered damage to their weather heads and meters. Those must be fixed by electricians before energy companies can begin their work. As a result, Alliant Energy said they were staffed like a normal day to avoid bringing in workers that would have to for electricians to finish.
Some area residents had reported hearing an "explosion" earlier in the day and then lost power. Alliant Energy confirmed the "explosion" sound was a blown transformer that shorted out as crews tried to restore power.
Among other things, Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services said ice and snow that's accumulated on power lines may melt off and cause lines to "snap" back creating problems and new outages.
This record breaking storm caused hundreds of trees to fall -- many on power lines.
"I had no idea it was as bad as it was until we got into town yesterday and it really looks like a tornado came through Albert Lea," said Jay Sullivan, owner of O'Sullivan Tree Service. Sullivan said customers started calling him as early as 5 a.m. on Thursday to remove trees.
"A lot of trees have a little bit of damage and then there's a lot of downed trees, completely uprooted," Sullivan said.
Sullivan went on to say it's important to maintain trees before they become a hazard.
"It's so important to properly maintain your trees. Otherwise, as they get older and mature it's too late to correct some of the problems that could have been corrected before they matured," Sullivan said. "Once they mature, then we have some problems. Especially when we get some heavy snow or high winds."
"It wasn't just the storm overnight that did this to the branches," said Chris Olson, an Albert Lea resident. Olson went on to say his trees branches were cracking even after the storm.
Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services asked residents to call if they see downed power lines, but to stay away from the lines. Also, drivers should use extra caution on the roads as they pass crews working on lines.
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