utility-truckPower has now been restored to all parts of Sioux Center after an electrical substation blew up early Saturday morning, leaving half the town of 7,500 without electricity.

If the power outage wasn’t enough problems for city officials to concern themselves, the northwest Iowa community also suffered a major water main break at the same time, leaving hundreds of homes and businesses without power and water.

Sioux Center City Manager Paul Clousing says utility crews worked non-stop through the weekend to help restore power. He says some private contractors and neighboring Orange City and Rock Rapids sent crews in to help get the power back. “They brought in what they call a mini substation and connected that into our system. And then they had to re-route power around from our north substation to various parts of our community,”Clousing says.

He says the outage lasted several hours. “Probably by about one in the morning on Sunday morning, we had most residences back on,” Cousing says. “A few businesses were still out — but then during the day on Sunday they were able to restore power to most everybody in the community.” Clousing says some electrical transformer boxes within close proximity of the substation were blown off their foundations when the substation short-circuited.

The Sioux Center city manager doesn’t know which came first — the water main break or electrical outage. “We did have a significant water main break right in that same vicinity and so they’re not sure if the water main break and the excessive water caused the short. Or if it was the other way around where we had maybe an electrical short and that might’ve had some impact on a water main,” according to Clousing. “They are still investigating what is the real relationship between those two.”

The American Red Cross was called in to offer assistance to the community, and the Sioux Center High School gymnasium served as an emergency shelter. Clousing says the town will continue to use the portable substation that was brought in to help restore power. He predicts it may be months before the permanent electrical substation will be fully repaired and working.

(Reporting by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)