Near disaster sparked by power surge near Rockford

Kent County

CANNON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — JoAnn Sischo left work early on Thursday, weary from navigating treacherous roads as a visiting nurse.

She’s grateful she did.

“(I’m) very lucky,” Sischo said Friday from her home in Cannon Township near Rockford.

If she had not done so, she figures she would be homeless now.

“Probably would be gone, right?” she said of her home on Weller Avenue NE.

Sischo arrived home Thursday afternoon to find a fallen tree limb straddling a power line in her front yard.

What’s worse, the tree had struck a high voltage line, which snagged the cable running to her home, causing a massive power surge.

“The whole electrical panel was black, tarred and smoldering,” recalled Sischo. “I’m just thankful that I left early and came home.”

A plumber working to protect Sischo’s water pipes from freezing echoed that.

“Just short of a disaster,” said Stephen Kaleward of Kellermeier Plumbing, Inc. in Rockford. “It’s really good that it didn’t cause a huge fire down here because the electrical panel was pretty scorched…. with the way everything happened out there, she’ll just have to wait and see what else it affected when they get the power back on.”

In the meantime, crews are doing everything they can to prevent further damage, in part by draining as much water from Sischo’s plumbing system as possible.

“What we’re trying to do is get the house drained down so there’s minimal water in the pipes (to freeze).”

Next, Kaleward poured RV antifreeze (not regular antifreeze) into every appliance with standing water, including toilets, sinks, shower drains, the washing machine and dishwasher. The RV antifreeze he uses is made specifically for recreational vehicles; it is not regular automotive antifreeze, which is, of course, toxic.

“Everybody just pulled together and has been awesome,” said Sischo, referring to the electricians, plumbers, gas crews, insurance adjusters and firefighters who’ve responded to her home. “I’m alive, I’m here. My cats are alive.”

As for the damage to her home, Sischo prefers to focus on the positive.

“One of the plumber guys said, ‘this too shall pass,’ and I said, ‘Yes, yes, indeed,’” she said.

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