Widespread damage, lack of available outside crews lead to power restoration delays

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BROOKFIELD, Wis. (CBS 58) -- With hundreds of customers left in the dark, and the cold, for over 55+ hours, WE Energies is thanking them for their patience as crews continue to work 16-hour days to turn the lights back on for those impacted by power outages caused by Wednesday night's storms.

"It's been an incredibly difficult restoration because it's been really bad damage, it's been widespread damage. We've been throwing everything at it," explained Brendan Conway, Media Relations Manager with WE Energies. "We understand people's frustration. We appreciate their patience and I think they know we've been working really hard, but we also understand that it's an incredible inconvenience."

As of 2:00 p.m. Saturday, WE Energies had restored power to over 98% of those impacted by Wednesday's storm. Still, some people like Steve Fosdick and Nicole Krebs started their third straight day Saturday without power.

"I think it's probably going on 55, 60 hours," Fosdick explained Saturday morning while stopping at his house to fill up his generator. "At first, we just hunkered down and it was fine because we didn't think it was going to be this long. But when we realized it was longer, I hooked up the generator so at least my two refrigerators were running."

Fosdick says the temperature in his home got to be as low as 50 degrees inside, with him and his family electing to stay with family less than a mile away. Nicole Krebs wasn't so lucky.

"I'm afraid my pipes are going to freeze," Krebs said. "I keep running water and shivering with my little dog."

According to Conway, a variety of factors played into the long wait time for people like Fosdick and Krebs to have their power restored.

"Those last two percent, the last one percent, they take the longest because they are often times the most severe damage and they require lots of crews," Conway said. "Normally, if you get a narrow band of storms, you can get help from Iowa or Illinois or other parts of Wisconsin. Everyone was dealing with the same weather so there were no extra crews. Finally, we were able to get some people from Indiana, and even those extra crews were dealing with the tornadoes from last week."

Both Krebs and Fosdick say they're grateful for the crews working to restore their power, but are hopeful that lessons can be learned from this event to help avoid a similar situation in the future.

"It's an honorable job," Krebs said, referring to the linesman and woman working on restoration efforts. "I wouldn't want to do it, but there should be a plan in place. This impacts a lot of things. It shouldn't happen."

According to Conway, plans are in place to help strengthen the grid and even bury power lines.

The latest update from WE Energies for the neighborhood where Krebs on Fosdick lives is that power has been restored. 

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