KALISPELL – Wet and heavy snow caused trees to fall across power lines throughout Flathead Electric Cooperative’s service area on Wednesday and cause outages for thousands of members.
FEC reports that "significant damage" occurred and widespread power outages resulted.
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Crews were dispatched before dawn to begin restoring power and are working into the night as trees continue to fall and new outages occur.
Repairs to the electric system will continue overnight, Thursday, and possibly into the weekend, due to the high number of outages spread across nearly the entire service area which covers over 5,000 miles of power lines.
According to a news release, FEC called on contract crews and other co-ops for mutual aid and crews will work around the clock to restore service to all members as quickly as possible.
Crews will focus first on transmission lines, then substations, then distribution lines.
FEC advises that members click here for more additional information about outages and to sign up for text message updates.
However, FEC notes that due to the high number of outages, map updates such as estimated times of restoration may be delayed or inaccurate.
The Co-op has also created an outage update page to post additional information as it becomes available.
FEC members are encouraged to report power outages only once and keep the phone lines open for all members.
'Members’ patience and kindness is greatly appreciated during times of power loss, which the Co-op recognizes are inconvenient and frustrating," a news release states.
During a power outage, FEC advises taking the following steps:
- Keep freezers and refrigerators closed.
- Only use generators outdoors and away from windows.
- Do not use a gas stove to heat your home.
- Disconnect appliances and electronics to avoid damage from electrical surges.
- Have alternate plans for refrigerating medicines or using power-dependent medical devices.
- If safe, go to an alternate location for heat or cooling.
- Check on neighbors.
Before an outage, check that you’re ready:
- Prepare your alternate heat source, i.e., source and properly store kerosene for your heater; candles; and wood, gas, or pellets for stoves.
- Stock up on water and store it where it won’t freeze! Keep in mind that electric water pumps don’t work when the power is out.
- Lay in extra food supplies, including infant formula and pet food.
- Charge up your devices, and put your flashlights, batteries, power banks, lanterns, and radios in an easy-to-access location.
- Top off your gas tank. Most gas stations rely on electricity to operate their pumps, and you might need to use your vehicle as a charging or warming station in an emergency.
- Prep your home for cold temperatures. Seal drafts, insulate pipes, and install carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups on every level of your home.
FEC members can sign up for text message alerts, and to stay informed here.