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Power for most people in Duluth expected to be restored by tonight

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The lights are coming back on after nearly a week without power.

Minnesota Power said in a noon update Wednesday that 760 customers in the Duluth area who are still without power after last week's storm should have it back by the end of the day.

However, 400 customers probably won't get power back on by Wednesday night, Minnesota Power says. That's because there's damage to the wire that runs from the power pole to the house, and repairing that "will take time."

An estimated 46,000 Minnesota Power customers were without power at the height of the July 21 storm, which saw wind gusts exceed 100 mph, according to the National Weather Service. (Check the latest outage map here.)

The power company is warning customers that more outages could occur if another storm blows through.

There are hundreds of leaning trees that are close to repaired wires, with Minnesota Power saying future storms "may take some of these trees down onto wires and cause outages." The company will be sending crews to address this issue.

State of emergency declared

Last week's storms caused so much damage that the St. Louis County has declared a local state of emergency.

At Tuesday night's county board meeting, county commissioners officially declared a state of emergency due to the "heavy fain, flash flooding, wind damage, and widespread electrical power outages" that impacted the county following storms on July 5 and July 21, county records show.

Declaring a state of local emergency makes it possible for the county to get state disaster relief funding, so long as damages exceed a certain amount.

County Administrator Kevin Gray told the Mesabi Daily News they're confident it will qualify.

An area from Duluth to Ely was among the hardest hit areas during the July 21 storm, and the county is currently assessing damage.

Roughly 21 Minnesota counties have been hit by strong storms this summer, according to the state's department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The agency said in a news release Wednesday it will be sending people out to survey recent damage in Itasca County, on the Leech Lake Reservation and Meeker County.

Officials estimate the damage from straight line winds on July 5 to total $900,000 in Itasca County and $38,000 on the Leech Lake Reservation, while damage from two EF-2 tornadoes that touched down July 11 did an estimated $330,000 of damage in Meeker County.

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