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Xcel Energy restores power to most in eastern South Dakota; Pierre region also recovering


SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota — Xcel Energy has restored electricity to areas of eastern South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota that were hit by strong storms this week.

Winds gusting to 100 mph Monday downed hundreds of power poles and plunged about 8,000 Xcel customers in the region into the dark. More than 150 employees from the Dakotas and Minnesota worked to restore power and wrapped up the effort late Tuesday, except for those homes that still need electrical repairs, the utility said in a statement. It did not say how many homes need such repairs.

Numerous electric cooperatives also have been working to restore power, and most customers had their lights back on Tuesday, according to the South Dakota Rural Electric Association.

The storms damaged trees and buildings through the region, hitting the town of Garretson particularly hard. The Red Cross is helping residents and has provided more than 750 meals since the storm, the Argus Leader newspaper reported.

The food and water aid was continuing at least through Wednesday. The community also was welcoming volunteers to aid with cleanup.

The Pierre-Fort Pierre region in central South Dakota also was hit hard by the Monday storms. Pierre got 1.65 inches of rain, breaking a 20-year-old record for the date, the Capital Journal reported.

The National Weather Service had to use a rainfall measurement from a backup gauge because its official gauge at the airport was plugged by debris blown around by the storm, meteorologist Tim Kearns told the newspaper.

Numerous trees and buildings throughout Pierre were damaged. The state Capitol roof was damaged, leading to some water damage on the building's fourth floor, and the Capitol complex lost trees, including a large one in front of the building.

The Pierre City Commission on Tuesday declared a state of emergency, a move that might pave the way for state or federal aid, KCCR radio reported.

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