GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Tens of thousands of Consumers Energy customers lost power Monday as widespread showers and freezing rain moved through West Michigan.
Consumers said it had 600 crews, including some from four other states, working on restoration efforts. Monday’s ice downed 800 lines in its service area, the Jackson-based utility said.
In Pierson Township Monday, gas stations were extremely busy with people stocking up on gas and propane as crews worked to restore electricity. Many people are powering up using propane and generators.
“Today, we’ve only sold two 8,000-watt generators, Generac brand. Usually, on a storm like this, we’d sell probably four,” Justin Ingersoll, inventory manager at CJ’s Ace Hardware in Greenville, said.
This round of the ice storm knocked out power for some businesses including a Walgreens in Greenville that is still functioning through the lack of electricity. Homeowners are also without electricity.
“I lost power today at about 1:30 p.m.,” Howard City resident Noah Artuso said.
The power outage interrupted everyday life for thousands.
“I was actually in the middle of a meeting doing an interview with a guy and dropped power and had to hurry and try to log back in on my phone,” Artuso said.
Robert Dukes bought a generator for his home also.
“My kids called me. They are home today with no school. Yeah, we have no power. I’ve been at work all day so I just came up and grabbed a generator and had to buy it online because they are running out so that way I can go home and have power. So… they’re saying it’s not until tomorrow afternoon,” Dukes said.
Downed trees and icy power lines caused major damage throughout Montcalm County.
Consumer Energy crews have focused their power restoration efforts on the southern part of the state after Wednesday’s winter storm brought down trees and power lines causing outages. Now crews will move up to West Michigan to help restore power.
“This is the first time I’ve actually had to use (my generator). So we are kind of preparing for a longer stretch this time with the power outages that you know from the last storm that people are still dealing with. I don’t think they are going to get around to getting us going pretty quick. So I’ve got about 50 lbs of propane in there that I am getting filled,” Artuso said.
People are also picking up gas cans and generator cords.
“Make sure you have batteries for flashlights and stuff like that and secondary heating needs just in case your propane was lower than you thought it was,” Ingersoll said.
Several law enforcement agencies, including the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office, posted on social media that there are reports of wires, trees and branches down. The Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office advised against driving unless it was an emergency.
People are reminded to stay away from downed power lines. Even if they look safe, you should assume they are energized. If you see a downed line, call 911 and Consumers.
These outages come just days after Wednesday’s left many waiting days for power to be restored.
In Kalamazoo County, more than 1,200 customers are still without power from last week’s storm as of Monday evening, including Oshtemo Township homeowner Michael Whalen, his wife and his daughter.
Whalen, who had to borrow a generator after the first one had failed, said this is the longest they’ve been without power since buying their home in 2013.
“We were without power for probably three days this summer, in August… and that seemed like a long time, that was the middle of summer,” Whalen said. “That was a lot more tolerable.”
Whalen told News 8 he has to turn his generator on twice daily to keep his water pipes from freezing. Not only were his restoration estimates pushed back, but he also says Consumers falsely notified him twice his power was back on, as early as Saturday.
“I even called up to talk to somebody. They said, ‘Oh, well you were nested with some other group, or you must’ve been or something. But I’m showing you Monday, (your) power is back on,” Whalen said. “I woke up (Monday) morning to a thing saying… my power’s been restored. I turned the breaker back on and nope – no power. It’s supposed to be in by noon, that went by. Now, they’re saying noon (Tuesday).”
Whalen says he does not fault power crews who’ve been busy since last week, but he’s worried if more homes lose their power later Monday and how much this will set them back.
“You have to be without power for 120 hours to get a $25 credit and I just laughed,” Whalen added. “Because I was like, what is that going to do? I’m spending twice that a day in fuel for a generator to keep the pipes from freezing. It’s tough.”
News 8 also talked to a neighbor who lives on ML Avenue near 4th Street and works from home. While they are waiting for their power to come back, he said their internet service was finally restored Sunday — four days after the ice storm.
Consumers said nearly all customers affected by the ice storm last week were expected to be restored by the end of Monday.
If your home remains without power for an extended time, call 211 to find resources near you.