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Dakotas might be in store for another bad storm

A pedestrian crosses DeMers Avenue GrForks N.D. Thursday afternoApril 11 2013 as late seassnow storm moves through Red River Valley.

A pedestrian crosses DeMers Avenue in Grand Forks, N.D. Thursday afternoon April 11, 2013 as a late season snow storm moves through the Red River Valley. (AP Photo/The Grand Forks Herald, John Stennes)

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — As South Dakota residents start to clean up after a major spring storm brought freezing rain and heavy snow that snapped tree branches, residents of North Dakota are bracing for another wallop.

North Dakota could see freezing rain and as much as a foot of snow this weekend, the National Weather Service said. Strong winds could accompany the storm, creating near-blizzard conditions and making travel hazardous.

Several inches of snow fell Thursday in southeastern North Dakota, the northern edge of a system that slammed South Dakota for three straight days and dumped as much as 30 inches of snow in the west and freezing rain in the east.

About 16,000 people remained without electricity in eastern South Dakota late Friday morning. More than 400 crew members from North Dakota, Kansas and elsewhere are working to restore power, said Jim Wilcox with Xcel Energy.

Wilcox said Xcel has been prioritizing by focusing on the greatest number of outages in one job and then focusing on single customers.

“It’s kind of like a tree,” he said. “We start at the trunk of the tree and work up to the branches and out to the twigs and then finally to the leaves, like the individual homes.”

A Red Cross shelter for those without power will remain open, said Regan Smith, Sioux Falls Emergency Management director. Twelve people used the shelter Thursday night.

Ice-heavy branches and trees remain as obstacles around the city, and Fire Chief Jim Sideras cautioned residents not to use equipment to clear them without training.

“This is not the time to learn how to use a chain saw,” he said.

Still, chain saws and generators have been hot commodities in Sioux Falls. The Lowe’s store ran out of both this week, and expected to get about 100 more chain saws Friday, said Jared Lahr, a department manager.

Sideras also urged people to be patient with the cleanup efforts.

“We’re not going to be done with this tomorrow or next week, although we would like to. We’re going to go into the long haul with this,” he said.

He and the Better Business Bureau are warning residents and businesses about scam artists. Sideras said also there have been some reports of people asking for donations for police and fire departments.

“While some of these contractors may offer a low price and fast repairs, they may not stand behind their work,” Better Business Bureau President and CEO Jim Hegarty said in a statement. “If the contractor is from out of state, who will service the warranty if problems arise later? Consumers should ask questions.”

South Dakota residents might also have to deal with more bad weather. The rain and snow forecast for North Dakota this weekend could extend into parts of South Dakota, the weather service said.

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Associated Press reporter Blake Nicholson contributed to this report from Bismarck, N.D.

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Follow Kristi Eaton on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kristieaton .



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