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Bonner County area still without power

Crews have been working around the clock to restore power to homes and businesses in the Priest Lake area in northern Bonner County.

Friday’s storm blew over trees and snapped at least 70 power poles, Northern Lights Inc. spokeswoman Elissa Glassman said Monday.

Glassman said the storm caused more damage than any in the history of the electric cooperative. About 2,500 customers, mostly on the east side of the lake, remained without power late Monday.

Many could have power restored by the end of today, Glassman said, but crews were planning to work through the Fourth of July holiday if needed.

“The crews are working as fast as they can,” she said. “They just keep running into more broken poles.”

Eric Anderson, a state representative and a director for Northern Lights, was among those without power. He had his chain saw out Monday and was helping cut and remove fallen trees.

Anderson, who lives at Outlet Bay, said the area was hit hard, but only minor injuries were reported.

“All said and done, the most important thing is people are still safe and our line crews remain safe,” he said.

Resorts on the lake had power again Monday. Cavanaugh Bay Resort & Marina was using generators for power Monday afternoon, waitress Kim Mackaben said.

About 3,700 customers lost phone service in Bonner County after the storm, but as the power was restored so were many of the phone connections.

“This storm was short-lived but very violent and hit quite a few of our areas,” Verizon spokeswoman Renee Willer said. “The extent of the damage was very far-reaching.”

Willer said phone service will be restored for many customers as power is restored, but there may be “pockets of outages” due to fallen trees. She urged people without phone service to have someone call the phone company to report the outage, if possible.

Nordman resident Cheryl Eckler was at a wedding at the Coolin Inn when the storm arrived just before 5 p.m. Friday.

Eckler said the weather was beautiful during the wedding ceremony, and then the sky grew dark.

“It was like nothing I’d ever seen,” she said. “It was unbelievable.”

Though the inn lost power, Eckler said a nearby camper donated a generator so the deejay could play music for the wedding crowd.

The storm continued to wreak havoc outside as the reception was under way – dropping a tree on Eckler’s car. She and her husband, Bob, an ambulance driver, took it all in stride. Some of their neighbors on the lake were worse off, she said, with trees falling on homes and blocking roads.

“Everybody pulls together up here in a community like this,” she said. “It was a huge team effort up here that was absolutely wonderful.”

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