More than 25,000 homes and businesses around the state were without power early this afternoon as freezing rain coated trees and power lines with ice. MidAmerican Energy spokesperson Ann Thelen says the majority of her company’s outages were located around Des Moines, Sioux City and Fort Dodge. At 1 p.m., just over 18,000 MidAmerican customers in the state were without electricity.

“We have a significant amount of customers in the Iowa City and Quad Cities areas, so as this storm moves to the east, there is the potential for that number to grow,” Thelen said. The freezing rain is only a part of the problem for the state’s utilities. “We have some wind causing some galloping of the lines, which means they are whipping up and down,” Thelen said. “Most of our outages are because of downed power lines.”

MidAmerican Energy officials prepared for today’s ice storm by putting utility workers in neighboring states on alert. “In addition to our regular MidAmerican crews, we do have crews that are here or are on their way from Kansas, Missouri and Illinois,” Thelen said.

Parts of western Iowa are reporting widespread tree and power line damage from the heavy ice along with the thousands of residents without electricity. Cass County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Kennon says the power was restored to portions of Atlantic this morning, but there are still many people without electricity and unfortunately, that situation may continue for a while.

Kennon says there will be pockets of people without power and it’s just not known how long it’ll take before crews can get all of the individual homes back on-line. Kennon says a “warming station” has been set-up at the Nishnabotna Family YMCA in Atlantic for those who are still in the dark.

He says it’s a warming station for now but if the crews can’t get the power restored to those people, the Y may be converted to a shelter. The Red Cross is providing cots for displaced residents to rest on until the power is restored.

Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic contributed to this story.

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