Utilities: High winds knocked out power to more than 1 million

Several power poles hover near the ground north of Conifer Ridge on Byron Center Avenue SW in Byron Center. (ReportIt)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Utility companies said Sunday that electricity had been restored to most of the some 1.1 million homes and businesses statewide that lost power when high winds rushed through Michigan last week, the Associated Press reports.

Thursday, Gov. Rick Snyder said Consumers Energy and DTE Energy were calling it the largest outage in the state’s history, affecting about a third of Michigan residents when the outage numbers were at their highest. Consumers said that its outages peaked around 300,000 on Wednesday. DTE Energy was also hit hard: The AP reports outage numbers peaked around 800,000 and remained around 100,000 Sunday morning.

Snyder on Friday surveyed damage caused by the strong winds, walking through a Dearborn Heights neighborhood, west of Detroit.

The strong winds snapped more than 1,100 poles and downed more than 8,000 wires across the state, Consumers said in a release.

“I can’t emphasize enough that if people come upon a downed wire to call 911 and to give Consumers Energy a call, too,” said Consumers spokesman Roger Morgenstern.

Sunday night, around 3,000 Consumers customers statewide were still without service, according to the company’s interactive outage map. Morgenstern told 24 Hour News 8 that the utility company hoped to restore power to everyone by the end of the day — though he said some outages may remain into Monday morning.

Consumers Energy said more than 2,000 people worked to restore power to the area, along with an additional 181 crews from Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Wisconsin. The company set up a mobile command center in Rockford, which was one of the hardest hit areas in Kent County. The hub contains computers and high-powered radios to allow the company to communicate with its crews and emergency management workers in nearby counties.

Morgenstern urged anyone using a generator to make sure it was properly installed and vented outside.

“Even in an open garage you can have carbon monoxide go into the house and that is odorless, colorless and deadly,” Morgenstern said.

The high winds knocked over trees and power lines onto roads all across West Michigan, causing slow downs on Wednesday. If traffic lights are out, drivers should treat it as a four-way stop.

>>Current traffic conditions

Dozens of churches, businesses and schools reported delays and closings Wednesday. Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo was experiencing power outages and had to be powered by generators. Due to the intermittent power outages, elective surgeries were cancelled Wednesday.

The American Red Cross of West Michigan opened a warming center at Pennfield High School near Battle Creek at 9 a.m. Friday.

–The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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