Billings, Mont. – Carbon County residents met the strong spring storm over the weekend with their typical strong community spirit.
The storm that dumped snow across southern Montana caused ice buildup on power lines across Carbon County Friday evening. Snow that followed then stuck to that ice, pulling down more than 50 spans of power lines, breaking 13 power poles, damaging others and causing power outages throughout the area.
NorthWestern Energy crews responded just after midnight and worked through the night to assess the situation, begin repairs and respond as new outage reports came in. Customers in Joliet, population 577, were out of power until Saturday evening. Some rural customers waited until Sunday afternoon to have power restored.
“From the people who rolled down their vehicle windows to offer encouragement and thanks, to others who came out of their homes to offer our crews something to drink, to the farmers and ranchers who brought their equipment to pull our equipment out of the mud, we thank you for your support,” said NorthWestern Energy Billings Division Supervisor Gas & Electric Operations Kirk Gordon.
The weekend snow fell on muddy roads and fields, thawed by warmer spring temperatures.
“Our equipment got stuck several times,” Gordon said. “Locals brought their equipment to help us out so that we could continue to make repairs.”