One-two punch of storms could leave some without power for days

Weather

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As the remnants of Cristobal moved across West Michigan this week, the storm brought down trees and left behind tens of thousands of Consumers Energy customers without power.

By 8:30 p.m. Thursday, the Consumer Energy’s interactive outage map showed about 116,000 customers without service statewide. In all, more than 235,000 customers had been affected since Tuesday, the Jackson-based utility said.

Consumers Energy spokesman Roger Morganstern told News 8 that power may not be restored to everyone in the hardest-hit areas — like some in Calhoun and Kent counties — until the weekend. Part of the problem was that a first round of storms Tuesday caused tens of thousands of outages, which was then compounded by more storm damage and downed power lines Wednesday. A third, narrower line of less severe showers Thursday didn’t help, either.

“We’ve got people working around the clock,” Morgenstern promised Wednesday, saying additional crews were on the job working up to 16 hours before being rotated off shift. “We do have hundreds of downed wires across West Michigan, so that takes a while to get all that literally untangled and put back up. We ask for patience because we need to do it safely for not only our customers but also our crews.”

Here are the West Michigan county-by-county outage numbers, updated at 8:30 p.m. Thursday (only counties with more than 100 outages are displayed):

  • Allegan County: 1,327
  • Barry County: 722
  • Branch County: 6,737
  • Calhoun County: 29,348
  • Ionia County: 344
  • Kalamazoo County: 589
  • Kent County: 11,553
  • Montcalm County: 2,206
  • Muskegon County: 2,758
  • Newaygo County: 818
  • Ottawa County: 5,217
  • St. Joseph County: 1,591

Statewide, Consumers said, there were some 5,000 downed power lines and some 300 broken utility poles.

TUESDAY STORM DAMAGE

Wednesday’s storms were the second round to hit West Michigan in two days. On Tuesday, the remnants of Cristobal brought down trees and power lines as they moved through.

On Main Street in Hopkins, a large tree fell atop Village President Terry Weick’s house Tuesday, sending at least one rafter plunging through a wall and leading to water damage. No one was hurt.

“The wind was blowing like I’ve never seen it before,” Weick said.

He said he was on his porch to bring his hanging plants inside when the tree out front snapped and fell above him.

“The tree lifted up, it twisted and came at me so quick,” he recalled. “I was more in shock than I was anything else.”

The tree didn’t crash through the porch ceiling, so Weick wasn’t hurt, but it did smash through the roof of the house.

It damaged the bedroom where his son was sleeping.

“The limb literally was just a few feet from his bed,” Weick said, crediting a “higher power” for keeping anyone from getting hurt.

While wind was one factor, rotting inside the tree also appeared to have contributed to its collapse.

Images sent to News 8 show several snapped utility poles along Riley Street between 80th Avenue and Fairview Street on the north side of Zeeland.

Ottawa County Central Dispatch said Lake Michigan Drive was shut down between 104th and 112th avenues in Robinson Township because of downed power lines.

News 8 also received video of a tree down over I-94 near mile marker 70, west of Kalamazoo, plus photos of broken utility poles in the Kalamazoo area and trees down near Allegan.

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