May 31 – June 2 Outage Updates

A major windstorm swept through the area causing widespread damage and power outages across our service territory. We ask that members please bear with us as we work to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.

If you are experiencing a power outage, please report it by calling our outage line at 406-751-4449. (You’ll be transferred into our automated system so we can assess outages most quickly. During large outage situations we do not answer calls on this line because we are communicating with crews and emergency responders.)

To report damaged electrical equipment, visit Report Damaged Electrical Equipment.

As updates are available, we will post them on this page, so please check back.

6/2/20, 6:30 PM Update (most recent)

Our crews made steady progress through the day. At this point, the majority of the main line has been repaired and we have been able to restore power to most of the 37,000 members who lost it during Sunday’s storm. Approximately 1,200 still remain without power. Most of the outages that remain are small, impacting just a few or only a single member. Now that most of the primary line is repaired, we are able to start tackling more of those. We are getting to them as quickly as we can and will bring power back up piece by piece as repairs are completed. We ask for your continued patience as many of these are tedious and timeconsuming repairs. Many will be repaired by tonight, with the hopes of most being fully restored by the end of day tomorrow. We may encounter a few spot outages into Thursday, depending on residual impacts from the storm.

Some of the larger outages required us to change out broken poles and install transformer banks which is labor intensive and requires us to bring in specialized equipment. One such job can take up to six hours or more and there were manyacross our service territory, which encompasses 5,000 miles of line. Where we were able, we made temporary repairs to get the power back up as quickly as possible, then we will come back later to replace the pole.

We would like to recognize and thank the help we’ve received from so many people outside of our staff and area who have assisted with this effort, especially the crews from Missoula Electric Cooperative, Glacier Electric Co-op, and Rocky Mountain Contractors, Aspen Urban Forestry, and Associated Arborists, and Glacier Traffic Control. They will continue their work here for the duration and operation efforts are continuing at the same vigorous pace as when the outages began if not more so.

Here’s the most detailed update we can provide on specific areas and the remaining larger outages at this point:

West Glacier – Pole being replaced, restoration expected tonight

Ferndale/Highway 83 – Multiple crews are working throughout this area. We expect to get most of the south Ferndale area back on tonight and will continue to bring power to spot outages as we can.

Highway 93 South of Whitefish, Happy Valley – Multiple crews completed work in this area today. Some single spot outages may linger into tomorrow, but the majority are expected to be restored by this evening.

Martin City Coram Area Several crews working on outages in this area today and expect to restore to majority this evening.

Kalispell/Evergreen – Crews restored most outages in these areas, but a couple of pole replacements may be delayed until tomorrow.

Lakeside/Rollins – Much of this area has been restored. Crews are working their way north and will then work their back to Kalispell, hoping for full restoration, but knowing there is always the possibility that they can be met with unexpected damages along the way.

Echo Lake – This area has been restored. If you remain without power in this area, it is not indicated on our system so please report it on our automated phone line at (406-751-4449).

Columbia Falls – Crews worked up the Edgewood Drive/Tamarack Lane area and restored most today.

If you remain without power but it is not showing up on our outage map, please call to report it. It is unlikely you’ll receive a call back, but we assure you that FEC follows up on all messages.

We would like to extend our gratitude so many of our members who have reached out with notes of encouragement or expressed concern for our crews. We know it’s not easy to remain patient and positive through such a prolonged outage situation, but your willingness to do so is keeping our crews encouraged.

6/2/20, 8:45 AM Update

Our crews made steady progress through the night. At this point, the majority of the main line has been repaired and we have been able to restore power to 95% of members who lost it during Sunday’s storm.

2,800 still remain without power. Most of the outages that remain are small, impacting just a few or only a single member. Now that most of the primary line is repaired, we are able to start tackling more of those. We are getting to them as quickly as we can and will bring power back up piece by piece as repairs are completed. We ask for your continued patience as many of these are tedious and time consuming repairs. Many will be repaired today and tomorrow, but we expect some will still take us through Thursday to get to.

Some of the larger outages left require us to change out broken poles which is labor intensive and requires us to bring in specialized equipment. We have already repaired several across our service area and are getting to the others as crews and equipment become available. Where we can, we are making temporary repairs to get the power back up as quickly as possible, then we will come back later to replace the pole.

We would like to recognize and thank the help we’ve received from so many people outside of our staff and area who have assisted with this effort, especially the crews from Missoula Electric Cooperative, Glacier Electric Co-op, and Rocky Mountain Contractors, Aspen Urban Forestry, and Associated Arborists, and Glacier Traffic Control.

Here’s the most detailed update we can provide on specific areas and the remaining larger outages at this point:

West Glacier – Regarding the outage in town, we need to replace a pole. We will have a crew up there this morning to start work on that and expect power to be restored by end of day.

Ferndale/Highway 83 – Multiple crews will be working throughout this area today. We expect to have a lot of the south Ferndale area back on this afternoon and will continue to bring on power here as we can.

Highway 93 South of Whitefish, Happy Valley – Multiple crews will be completing work in this area today to get as much power restored as possible. A large part of that should be restored by later today.

Martin City Coram Area – We will have several crews working on outages in this area today and expect to restore much of the power there today.

Kalispell/Evergreen – We will have crews working through the small remaining outages in these areas to bring on as many as they can today.

Lakeside/Rollins – Much of this has been restored. Crews will be working the remaining outages in this area and south to Rollins today to restore as much power as possible.

Echo Lake – There is still quite a bit of tree work to do, but we will have crews in there today working to restore as much power to this area as possible.

Columbia Falls – We have a crew working up the Edgewood Drive/Tamarack Lane area and expect to get that restored today. We will continue to work through the other smaller outages remaining in the area to restore as many as we can today.

We would like to extend our gratitude so many of our members who have reached out with notes of encouragement or expressed concern for our crews. We know it’s not easy to remain patient and positive through such a prolonged outage situation, but your willingness to do so is keeping our crews encouraged.

6/1/20, 6:30 PM Update

We believe that this is the largest storm our service area has experienced in terms of number of members impacted. Many of you have never had power outages lasting this long, and we want to thank you for your continued patience as we do all we can do clean up the damage caused by the tornado-like winds yesterday morning. Flathead Electric Co-op employees experience outages just like our members, and we truly empathize with the challenges this is causing for those still without power.

We are all hands on deck in every sense of the word — FEC staff from lineworkers, substation crews, tree crews, warehouse, dispatchers, communications, meter services, engineering, management and more are doing everything they can to help with the restoration effort. We would like to extend our gratitude to crews from outside of our staff and area who have come in to help with this effort – Missoula Electric Cooperative, Glacier Electric Co-op, and Rocky Mountain Contractors, Aspen Urban Forestry, and Associated Arborists have provided additional assistance and much needed man power.

At this point, we have been able to restore power to well over 80% of members who initially lost it, and crews will continue working into the night and as long as it takes to restore power to every one of the 6,000 members who remain without power. Estimating restoration times is extremely challenging when you’re dealing with this much damage and this many unknowns, but we are doing our best to keep members informed.

This update is a little tough to make. We want to provide a list of the major areas we expect to be back on tonight, but we also know that there will be outstanding smaller outages remaining in these areas even once we get the primary line back up. That means that although the majority of power might be restored in an area, there will still be people out dues to additional damage on the smaller taps feeding small groups of homes and secondary lines feeding individual homes. Most of those remaining outages will be ones that we will have to come back and clean up later and could take us into Wednesday and possibly even Thursday.

We expect the majority of power to be restored in the following areas tonight before midnight (again, there will be a few small outages remaining in each area and these updates are always subject to change due to unexpected issues):

  • South Whitefish
  • North KM Ranch –within the hour
  • Whitefish Stage – bulk of this has already been restored, but we will get a few more repaired tonight
  • Highway 40
  • Blanchared Lake
  • Happy Valley – the main line is on, but several of the smaller taps are still off. We will get some more on tonight, but not all.
  • Essex
  • Martin City, Hungry Horse, Blankenship
  • Bayou Rd
  • West Highway 2, Browns Meadow
  • Rollins
  • Lakeside
  • Highway 83 – It looks like we will be able to get the main lines in Ferndale, Red Owl, and Swan Lake areas back on tonight. We will have quite a few small residual outages still remaining.

Here are updates we can provide in other areas:

  • West Glacier – There’s a broken pole causing the outage in the town of West Glacier and we don’t anticipate being able to repair that until tomorrow at some point.
  • Kalispell – we do have a crew still working around town catching some of the remaining outages, but if you’re out in this area, you likely won’t have power restored tonight.
  • Evergreen area – Meadowlark Drive has a broken pole we won’t probably be able to get repaired until tomorrow. We don’t expect Mountain View drive to come on tonight.
  • Echo Lake – We have had a tree crew in there today to begin the clearing process and a line crew is currently making repairs, however, we don’t expect that they will be able to get them completed tonight.

Danger! We still have wire down in many areas. As a reminder, don’t ever assume that the wire is not energized. We have had several scenarios during this outage where downed wire was still live. Don’t touch, go near or drive over wire. Wait until a professional can get to the scene.

6/1/20, 10:45 AM Update

Our game plan today is to execute “coordinated attacks” focused in certain areas. We have been able to secure several more outside crews to come and assist FEC with this process. While it’s possible that we might pick up some of the smaller outages, our goal is to tackle the larger outages in the main areas hit. We expect to be able to get most of the larger remaining outages repaired today. Some medium sized and smaller outages will go into tomorrow and Wednesday.

There are many, many places across our service area where there is a single secondary wire down (the wire that runs between our distribution lines and the member’s home) and the outage is only impacting that one member. Unfortunately, the cleanup on some of these single outages will likely take us into Thursday. The reality is that it doesn’t do us (or our members) any good to even start on those smaller outages until we have all the primary wire back up and energized. If your secondary wire is down, please make plans for a prolonged outage.

Here’s what we can tell you about our specific plans for today at this point:

Whitefish Area – We have two crews working across the Whitefish area. One crew is working west of Whitefish in the Lion Mountain areas and should be able to have that cleared up in the next couple hours. Then they will start working on other outages in that area. The other crews is in the Happy Valley/Highway 93/Whitefish Stage area starting to get the main line put back together there so we can get most of the larger outages in that area restored today. We will do our best, but do not anticipate crews being able to get to the KM Ranch/Spring Prairie area today.

West Glacier – Two crews are in this area and we have another on the way to assist. We were able to repair the main line last night but ran into issues heating up the feeders. We will be hitting this area hard to get most of the power restored here today. Crews will work on patrolling and clearing from Essex back toward town, then will work back toward the Hungry Horse, Martin City, Coram, areas, then back toward Columbia Falls.

Columbia Falls – Once crews finish in the West Glacier, Coram, Hungry Horse areas, they will work their way back toward Columbia Falls. We will do our best to get these crews as far as the Jellison Road and Trumble Creek areas, but members impacted by those outages should make alternate plans in case we aren’t able to get there today.

West of Kalispell – We will have a crews trying to pick up some of this area today. Mountain Meadow Road has been mostly completed, and we will be working up McMannamy Drive today. Crews worked through the night on the Bitteroot Lake area and will be hitting it again this afternoon in hopes of completing repairs there by tonight.

West Shore, Rollins, Lakeside – We will have a crew in Rollins later today to repair the main line. Once they have finished with that, they will work back North toward Lakeside.

Evergreen/Helena Flats – A crews is currently working on the River Road outage and should be able to restore power there today. We will do our best, but at this point, we do not anticipate that we will be able to get crews into the other East Evergreen, West Evergreen, or Helena Flats areas impacted.

Downtown Kalispell – We have a crew working in the Woodland area now. They will continue working in the Kalispell area to make as much progress as they can today on some of the larger outages remaining there.

Ferndale, Swan, Echo Lake – This was one of the most intensely hit areas in terms of downed trees and lines. One lineman reported over 50 trees down in a two mile stretch along Highway 83. We have six crews currently working from Ferndale and down Highway 83 to put as much primary line as possible. Depending on the progress we are able to make in this area, we may be able to send a crew to Echo Lake, but unfortunately, we just aren’t sure at this point if that will be possible today.

If your area is not listed here, we area recommending that you make alternate plans for a prolonged outage. Thank you for your continued patience as our crews work to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.

6/1/20, 9:15 AM Update

Crews worked through the night and have brought the power back on for over 25,000 members who originally lost it during the storm. Over 9,000 members still remain without power. Unfortunately, a lot of the outages left are smaller and more challenging to repair.

We understand and empathize with the hardships and frustration extended outages can cause our members. We ask for your continued patience and understanding as our 15 crews tackle over 130 remaining outages spread from corner to corner of the 5,000 miles of line on our system. Even though we’ve brought in extra help, this is a big lift (consider that just a single pole replacement typically takes a crew about a half day of work). We are still expecting that some areas will remain without power well into tomorrow and maybe even into Wednesday.

We would like to thank our wonderful members for the hundreds of notes they’ve sent extending their gratitude, patience and understanding – serving you is what keeps us going through the hardest times!

We are in the midst of analyzing what areas we have left and making a game plan for the day. We will be able to get a lot of the larger outages repaired today. As soon as we have more details to share, they will be posted here. Please check back soon.

6:25 PM Update

This storm his us quickly and it hit us hard. The outage numbers were initially so high because several transmission lines and distribution substations were impacted. The Flathead substation which feeds most of the North side of Kalispell as well as the transmission line feeding Big Mountain and Whitefish have been repaired and power has been restored to most members in those areas. We’ve also made repairs to several other substations that were partially out.

The good news is that at this point, we have been able to restore power to approximately half of the members initially impacted. The bad news is that a lot of the repair work that’s left is slow and challenging. 19,000 members still remain without power.

Rest assured that we have every possible crew member working to make repairs right now. We have also called in additional help from five other crews from other parts of the state. We will continue working until all power has been restored, but we anticipate some of our members might be without power into Tuesday and possibly even Wednesday.

Here’s what we can tell you about specific areas at this point and going into tonight:

West of Kalispell (Smith Lake/Marion area) – A crew is there working and hoping most of this area will come back on tonight after we are able to remove a large tree from the line and make repairs. There may still be some spot outages left even once that repair is made.

Whitefish Area – While a lot of the power in this area was restored, if you are still out in Whitefish, you should plan to be out at least through tonight.

Happy Valley – This area was hit pretty hard. We are hoping to have some of the power restored here tonight, but likely not all.

Columbia Falls – The remaining power outages in Columbia Falls are not expected to be restored tonight.

Hungry Horse and Glacier – Crews are working in this area, and we are hoping to at least get the transmission line back up tonight which should bring most of the area back on. We don’t know what residual damage there might be, and some spot outages might remain.

Downtown Kalispell Area – Crews are currently working on the South Side of Kalispell, and we are hoping to get most of the area back up tonight. Some of the main Kalispell area might remain without power through the night.

Woodland Park and Conrad – Work is nearly complete in this area and power should be coming back up soon.

Highway 206, Bigfork, Ferndale, Swan Lake area – This span was hit hard again. We have four crews working across the area. They are dealing with difficult access and slow repairs. We are hoping to get a few of the outages repaired here this evening, but much of this area will have prolonged outages.

Echo Lake – We are trying to free up a crew to get them into Echo Lake area tonight, but unfortunately we just don’t know yet if we will be able to.

Two Mile area – We have a crew in the Two Mile area trying to get the road back open. We are hoping to get most of the power restored there tonight.

We are working the biggest outages we have right now to restore power to the most members possible as quickly as possible. If your area is not listed, it’s possible that you will be without power at least through the night, if not longer. We thank you for your continued patience and understanding as our crews work through the destruction caused by this storm.

11:30 AM Update

This is one of the worst storms our area has seen in years. We sustained significant damage to our system. At the peak, we were reporting nearly 37,000 members out of power. That’s over half of the members we serve. Appleway and Four Mile have been restored. We currently have over 200 outages and 31,600 members out of power across the entire 5,000 miles of line on our system. All crews are responding, but that’s a lot of ground to cover. The main goal is to restore power safely to the greatest number of members in the shortest time possible. The bulk of those members power will be restored today, but we anticipate the restoration process in some areas could take our crews days. We thank our members in advance for their patience as we work through the damage caused by this storm to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.

DANGER! There are downed power lines all across our service area. Always assume a downed line is hot, even if it doesn’t appear to be. Never touch, go near, or drive over downed power lines. Never try to remove trees from power lines. Wait until professionals can arrive on site. Please report all emergency situations to 911.

Please watch this video to learn how we prioritize power restoration in major outage situations: