Local officials request people call Arrowhead Electric during a power outage, not law enforcement
WTIP file photo

Local officials request people call Arrowhead Electric during a power outage, not law enforcement

Power outages during extreme weather are a reality of living in a remote area like Cook County.

The final week of 2022 is a shining example of this, as a severe winter storm wreaked havoc on businesses, residents, local law enforcement, and lineman crews from Arrowhead Electric Cooperative.

Sustained 60 mph winds lasted nearly 48 hours in areas of Cook County during the storm that raged from Dec. 22 through Dec. 24. At one point during the storm, the Grand Marais harbor recorded wind gusts at 74 miles an hour.

Intense wind knocked down trees and power lines across the county during the storm. As the power went out, people started calling to report outages from Grand Portage and Tofte to the end of the Gunflint Trail.

For some, a question of who to call to report their power outage came to the surface. John Twiest is the CEO and general manager at Arrowhead Electric Cooperative. He said the answer of who to call during a power outage in Cook County is very simple.

“Call Arrowhead Cooperative,” Twiest said. “That’s it.”

There was a time when calling the Cook County law enforcement center was a common practice during a power outage. This is no longer what people should do unless it is an emergency, local officials explained. Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliasen said the winter storm and subsequent power outage brought a surge of phone calls to the local dispatcher at the law enforcement center in Grand Marais. Some of the calls were reports of power outages. Other calls, however, were people requesting law enforcement officials to stop at their property to make sure everything was okay. Some of the callers were property owners who own second homes in the county but were not in town during the storm, Eliasen said.

“If there’s somebody staying at your cabin, and we have a windstorm like we did, and it’s a possibility they can’t get out, articulate that and it’ll get moved up on the priority list,” Eliasen said during a Jan. 3 interview on WTIP. “If you’re calling in just because you heard there’s a windstorm in Cook County and you want us to go check on your cabin, we’re probably not going to get to that. And what I would suggest is calling or researching some of the cabin maintenance companies in Cook County, researching who they are get their phone numbers, give them a call because that’s what they’re there for. We’re there for public safety and emergency situations. That’s our primary objective.”

Twiest told WTIP Jan. 3 that “our answering service provides a menu of options, and if there is a power outage, it is then forwarded to dispatch for them to contact the on-call lineman.”

“During a bad storm, or outages that impact a significant amount of members, we have people to answer the phones and record the information they give us,” Twiest said. “Especially during bad storms, dispatch has a lot going on and we do not want to add to that, so we ask that members always call Arrowhead directly for any power outage.”

Listen to the audio below hear the full interview with Eliasen from Jan. 3.

When there is a power outage in Cook County, call Arrowhead Electric Cooperative at 218-663-7239.

“If a member has a power outage, please call Arrowhead Cooperative,” Twiest said.