Meagher County Commissioners signed an emergency declaration this afternoon due to a power outage that began this morning. County residents, like those in the town of White Sulphur Springs, have been without power since around 8 a.m.
According to Rick Seidlitz, the Meagher County fire chief and disaster and emergency service coordinator, the county is working to help residents affected by the outage.
"Our biggest concern is our large elderly population, and a lot of them are on oxygen," he said. "And their condensers don’t work with no power either, so they’re on regular oxygen tanks."
Seidlitz says they are working to distribute tanks to those who may have run out.
He says the outage has affected many businesses, including gas stations which couldn’t pump fuel.
Schools also faced problems as NorthWestern Energy originally said the problem would be fixed within two hours.
“You know, at 8:00, they were trying to determine if they were going to send the kids home or keep them," Seidlitz said. "The information they got was they only needed two hours. Well they could deal with that. Two hours passed and they said, 'well another two hours.' Well that gets them into lunch. And they said, ‘well it’s only going to be another two hours so we can keep them.’ Well of course they didn’t have any power for lunch.”
NorthWestern Energy spokesperson Brandy Powers says an equipment failure at the Two Dot substation led to the outage.
“You know, as we assess the line, I mean, we’re trying to provide accurate information and restoring power as soon as possible. Because this was a breaker issue, as power is restored, it doesn’t hold, so they are continuing to try and make the fix.”
Powers says crews have been working since this morning, and they hope to have power restored by 6 p.m. She says the outage impacted around 1,400 customers.