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Power restored in Libby following strong windstorm

by WILL LANGHORNE
The Western News | November 19, 2021 7:00 AM

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A Flathead Electric Cooperative crew works on a power line following a wind storm earlier this week. (Photo courtesy of Flathead Electric Cooperative)

Crews have completed repairs to local electrical grids after more than 10,000 area residents lost power during a windstorm earlier this week.

By mid-afternoon on Nov. 17, Flathead Electric Cooperative employees had restored power to all members in the Libby area, according to Katie Pfennigs, communications manager with the cooperative. When the storm swept through the area two days before, at least 1,600 Libby members plunged into darkness.

Troy residents, who draw electricity from the municipality’s electrical department, had power as of Nov. 17, according to Clay Campbell, the city’s power manager. Campbell noted that as of that evening some Northern Lights Inc. customers near Troy were without power.

Pfennigs said around 200 members across the cooperative — which covers parts of Lincoln and Flathead counties — remained without power as of mid-afternoon on Nov. 17. Most of the remaining outages were in areas where crews had to perform more demanding repairs, according to a press release.

Cooperative officials expected to return power to all members by late that evening, according to the latest release from Flathead Electric.

The windstorm posed a serious challenge for crews since it affected members from across the cooperative’s area of coverage. Flathead Electric saw outages from Libby to Essex, according to Pfennigs.

“It was a challenging restoration process over the course of the windstorm,” she said. “Crews were working pretty well straight through. We’re very happy to have most of that work behind us at this point.”

Areas west of Kalispell towards Libby were among the hardest hit by the windstorm, the Daily Inter Lake reported. The National Weather Service reported gusts of 63 mph and sustained winds of 36 mph at Glacier Park International Airport on Nov. 15. Lincoln County saw gusts of 67 mph, according to the Daily Inter Lake.