- Associated Press - Thursday, December 17, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Rural electric cooperatives in central and southern North Dakota were still trying Thursday to restore power to homes and businesses left in the dark by a two-day snowstorm.

Verendrye Electric Cooperative in the Minot-Velva area, which lost about 64 power poles during the storm, reported about 80 customers still without power Thursday afternoon. Four other co-ops affected by the storm reported that either all of their customers had electricity or only a handful were still waiting.

“We are very happy about that,” said Mor-Gran-Sou Electric Chief of Staff Jackie Miller. “The weather is finally cooperating. The sun is shining today.”

The outages, caused by heavy frost on electrical wires, numbered more than 4,000 at one point during the storm, which began early Tuesday and moved out late Wednesday.

About 80 outages also were reported at one point on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Tribal officials reported only “spotty” outages Thursday morning and hoped to have everyone back online by the end of the day, said Richard Smith, a regional director for the American Red Cross.

Only one of the four emergency shelters that were opened on the reservation during the storm was still operating, he said, and residents were using it only as a warming place and not for permanent shelter.

“They’re resilient people,” he said.

The storm dumped a foot of snow in western South Dakota, more than half a foot in eastern North Dakota and lesser amounts in other parts of the two states, creating hazardous conditions for motorists.

The state Transportation Department on Thursday afternoon issued a travel alert for Grand Forks, Cavalier, Michigan, Cooperstown, Drayton and surrounding areas due to icy road conditions.

Several schools in northeastern North Dakota and northern South Dakota started classes late Thursday.

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Follow Blake Nicholson Twitter at: http://twitter.com/NicholsonBlake

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