Two Harbors 'dodged a bullet' in worst ice everDespite the fact that "thousands" of tree branches were down, Two Harbors escaped the ice storm with a surprisingly small amount of damage, according to Tom Gelineau, public works superintendent.
By: Monica Isley, Lake County News Chronicle
Despite the fact that "thousands" of tree branches were down, Two Harbors escaped the ice storm with a surprisingly small amount of damage, according to Tom Gelineau, public works superintendent.
"It could have been a lot worse," he said on Tuesday.
As tree branches fell up and down the streets, city crews responded to a list of calls from residents, with city hall staying open to answer phones until 6 p.m., instead of the usual 4:30. Crews moved up and down the streets with heavy equipment to scoop up the limbs and at least get them onto the boulevards to be hauled away later.
On Tuesday, the big concern was steaming open the culverts and ditches on the fringe ends of town—Falk, Marie, Bourdage and 19th Street—in order to have them open before the next onslaught, a snow storm predicted to arrive on Wednesday.
"We have to hurry and open those ditches before the snow clogs them," Gelineau said. If that happens, then the spring melt would have no place to go and the roads would be flooded.
On Monday, however, it was the trees that were causing the most concern as, weighed down with ice, they were "snapping off right and left."
"I was afraid to put my crews out there," Gelineau said, "and was so surprised to see people driving and even walking under the tree canopies. When those limbs come down, they come down heavy."
Gelineau said the city crews were out until 9 o'clock, pushing tree debris off the streets. He explained that most of the limbs that fell were from trees that were structurally weak for one reason or another. The city has a plan for pruning away those kinds of weak points, but it has a long way to go.
Although most of the ice was gone by Tuesday, Gelineau said there is still a worry about falling branches.
"Some of them were cracked and are being held in the canopy by other branches," he said. "They can still come down in a wind."
Gelineau said this was the worst ice storm he's seen in all of his years working for the city.
Steve Blettner, electrical superintendent for Two Harbors, said they dealt mostly with spot outages from trees hitting the power lines that ran to the houses. One line burned down behind the band shell, leaving about 30 customers without power for a couple hours.
Customers in "Skunk Creek hollow," the area on 6th Avenue between Waterfront and 5th Street, were down about the same length of time when trees downed power lines.
Mid-afternoon, the entire town was without power for at least half a dozen short spurts.
"That was Minnesota Power, our supplier," Blettner said. "They're our supplier, and they were having trouble with trees on the lines."
Still, Two Harbors came through the storm fairly well, "better than Coop Light and Power," according to Blettner.
"They called looking for help from the city, but I just couldn't spare anyone," he said.
By 10 p.m. Monday, everyone in town was back on line as far as Blettner knew, and he sent his crews home.
"It was too dangerous to be out there with the ice making it so slippery, the branches falling, and not being able to see," he said.
On Tuesday, Blettner was driving the alleys looking for damage, and for areas where branches might still be lying on the lines.
"We kind of dodged a bullet here," Blettner said. "We're fortunate we didn't get hit as hard as some.”