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Power outage in Verndale expected through 8 p.m.

Minnesota Power staff troubleshoot the transformers at the substation to the north of Hwy 10 in Verndale Wednesday afternoon. Power went out around 1 p.m. and was expected to be back on after 5 p.m. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

Minnesota Power experienced a power outage in the city of Verndale starting at about 1 p.m. Wednesday, affecting about 338 residents as well as the Verndale Public School.

According to an outage map, provided by Minnesota Power, the outage was expected to continue until 5 p.m. at first review. That was later updated to a planned restoration of 8 p.m., possibly sooner.

Minnesota Power workers were on site at the substation to the north of Hwy 10 and said, at about 2:30 p.m., that they were troubleshooting at the site, with no obvious problems seen at first surveying the station.

After further review, it appeared that workers would have to replace the equipment with a new transformer, according to Amy Rutledge, Minnesota Power's manager of corporate communications. Knowing that they would have to retrieve the new equipment, things could take a bit longer, Rutledge said.

"The outage restoration is going to take a little more time," she said. "We understand it's an inconvenience. Please know our crews are working on restoring the problem."

Verndale Public School Superintendent Paul Brownlow said the generator was working at the school keeping certain areas of the school lit up. Meanwhile the majority of classrooms had plenty of natural lighting to allow for some extra time for quiet reading. Brownlow said students were keeping strenuous activities to a minimum as there was not power for air conditioning or fans.

After school activities were planned to continue as most athletics could be done outside, and the gym had lighting.

Lights were flickering for a time at the school, a concern for some students with tendencies to have seizures. Once workers started working on the power, the flickering stopped. Water was still running at all older drinking fountains and toilets.

Brownlow said the initial outage was a concern, but within a few minutes things were continuing almost as normal, minus the use of computers, projectors and other various technologies.

"We got past the initial shock ... we're just acting like the lights are off," Brownlow said.

For those rooms without lighting, cell phone lights were allowing staff to at least find their way around. The central PA system was still functioning as well, allowing staff to communicate any information they knew.

It seemed, the biggest problem may be, the dirty dishes will have to wait to be cleaned until tomorrow.