SHERIDAN — It was a weekend of fire and ice for Sheridan’s emergency responders. Residents at the base of the Bighorn Mountains are still working to recover from an early fall storm that weighed down trees and knocked out power to thousands of structures in Sheridan County.
At one point, Montana-Dakota Utilities estimated approximately 3,000 Sheridan residents were without power Friday, but by Saturday, that estimate had dropped to 900 as crews worked continuously to repair damaged lines. MDU Spokesman Tony Spilde said the outages started popping up Thursday night and continued into the weekend.
Spilde said MDU brought in third-party contractors to help repair lines at numerous sites around the city. In some instances, a branch knocked out entire sections of the electrical grid. In others, it was only one or two houses, he said. Crews worked in the largest outages first.
MDU Spokesman Mark Hanson said as of Monday morning, there were about 150 customers still without power in isolated areas, and 435 more who have individual lines down that will need repaired.
“In some cases we will make repairs and in other cases customers need an electrician to make the repair as the damage is beyond the meter and the responsibility of the customer,” he said.
Powder River Energy Corporation also indicated in a press release it had restored power to 1,000 people in northeast Wyoming as of Sunday evening.
City Public Works Director Nic Bateson said the city crews will be out in full force this week picking up branches and green waste created by the storm. Thousands of yards around town are littered with large and small boughs that broke under the weight of the weekend’s wet snow.
Bateson said operations at the city’s landfill were stalled over the weekend because the facility was without power, which meant each load of green waste had to be manually weighed.
“It got to the point where they had to estimate the weight of some loads,” Bateson said, indicating today, electricity at the landfill is restored and the entire staff will be working on the site and throughout the community.
Bateson said the city is relying on residents to do the best they can with the extra foliage. The best option, he said, is for people to deliver their green waste directly to the landfill, where operations have been streamlined. The next-best thing, he continued, is to take the branches to one of the city’s numerous green waste receptacles.
“If they’re full, they’ll be quickly emptied,” Bateson said.
He said city crews will also make a single run through each section of the community for those who lack the logistical means or physical ability to get their branches picked up.
“If they absolutely cannot deliver materials to the green waste locations or landfill, you can pile them on the curbside,” Bateson said. “It’s going to take quite a bit of time to make the rotation around town to do that. We’ll try to do that as efficiently as we can.”
Bateson said the curbside pickup rotation will begin today, but it was unclear where crews would begin working.
“We’re going to ask citizens to keep their eyes out and if you see piles in the neighborhood and most are gone in the afternoon, it’s probably because street crews already came through,” he said.
Bateson said city workers are also busy working to clear Sheridan’s numerous public spaces, including parks and streams.
“Those are public safety priorities for us,” he said. “We want to focus our resources in a direction where they’ll have the most impact.
Bateson emphasized it would be a big help to city crews if individual citizens could deliver their green waste to the landfill or a branch collection site.