GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Southern Michigan counties were the hardest hit as Wednesday’s winter weather knocked out power to homes and businesses around the state.

Consumers Energy said that as many as 215,000 customers were affected statewide.

Consumers said more than 300 crews were starting to restore power but that it would take days to get to everyone.

“It is safe to say there will be people who have power out into the weekend, into Saturday and maybe longer. We certainly encourage people to check out the outage map and make sure you have a plan to stay safe,” said Brian Wheeler with Consumers Energy.

The number of outages statewide almost tripled between 7 p.m. Wednesday, when there were about 60,000 outages, and 11 p.m., when there were about 179,000.

“We have everyone ready to go as soon as it’s safe to send everyone out. But we’re continuing to track the storm and we know that unfortunately the worst hasn’t happened yet. The temperatures are going to continue to drop, things are going to continue to freeze,” Tracy Wimmer, a media relations specialist with Consumers Energy, said around 8 p.m.

She urged customers to be cautious and patient. Wimmer could not give an exact timeline on when those that lost power can expect it to be back on, but said the safety comes first.

“We’re ready to go, we’re going to work as hard as we can to get power back on as quickly as possible, but things are obviously going to be impact by the safety conditions,” she said.

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.

Consumers also asked people to keep an eye out for crews working to restore power. When you see them, slow down and move over to give them plenty of room to work.

The winter storm brought freezing rain, sleet and snow around West Michigan. The city of Portage was hit hard by the freezing rain, getting nearly half an inch.

“It was a little bit after 7 o’clock and we had finished up dinner, just finished watching the evening news and the power all went out,” Portage City Manager Pat McGinnis said.

He estimated hundreds in his own neighborhood lost power Wednesday night. He was out checking the scope of the problem himself.

“The mayor was asking me what’s going on because her power was out too, so I drove around and saw some city crews out clearing trees,” he said.

He said he also saw neighbors doing their part.

“As I was driving around, I saw a lot of residents pulling big logs and sticks and branches out the road. So a lot of our neighbors are responsible people,” he said.

The city of Kalamazoo reported downed trees and limbs blocking roadways, as well as downed power lines. It said Thursday that it got 650 incident reports overnight, nearly 300 of which were for traffic hazards. Some roads remained blocked mid-day Thursday while crews kept working to clean up, so drivers were urged to use caution.

Kalamazoo residents can leave fallen limbs and brush on the curb, but it could take several days before they are taken away.


Concerned that the winter storm would knock out power, people in the Hastings area were at the hardware store early Wednesday to make sure they had what they needed to wait out the weather.

The Ace Hardware in Hastings sold out of generators on Tuesday, though more were on the way. The store manager said many customers heeded early warnings to stock up on essentials like generators, extension cords, ice melters and salt, which the store had plenty of.

“We found that one of our stores had an abundance of salt. We just brought in some in from them. We’ve got a replenishment truck coming tomorrow from our supplier, Ace,” manager Tom Leister said. “We’re going to tackle it just as well as we can.”

The lines were short, but Mellisa Pennington was among those make last-minute preparations as the rain turned to sleet.

“Decided I’d better stop and get some more salt. It gets pretty icy where I’m at,” she said.

If you have a generator, first responders remind you to follow the rules to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Generators need to be approximately 5 feet from any opening of the house,” Hastings Fire Department Assistant Chief Rick Krouse said. “They should not ever been in an attached garage, even with the garage door open, because those gasses will accumulate and seep into the home.”

You should also check that the CO detectors in your home are working.

Grocery stores in Allegan County reported a busy Wednesday, with an influx of people stocking up on essential foods.

— News 8’s Demetrios Sanders contributed to this report.