What to do with tree debris from damaging winds


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The cleanup and restoration efforts are underway after damaging winds led to the largest power outage in Michigan’s history, according to Consumers Energy and DTE Energy.

Gov. Rick Snyder said Thursday that one-third of the utility companies’ customers lost power as the strong winds swept through Michigan the day prior. Consumers Energy has said it could take until Sunday to full restore power to all of its affected customers.

FLOODED BY CALLS

Utility crews have been working around the clock since the winds picked up and the calls started coming in.

They aren’t the only ones who have been busy. In Grand Rapids, firefighters responded to nearly double the normal amount of calls – 141 in total between 7 a.m. Wednesday and 7 a.m. Thursday morning. City traffic officials also handled 114 emergency calls – nearly nine times more than a typical day, according to city spokesman Steve Guitar.

schoolcraft tipped semi
A semi tipped over by high winds rests on US-131 in Schoolcraft. (Rebecca Orwig via ReportIt)

The call lines were also lit up at Kalamazoo County central dispatch. The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office said dispatchers handled numerous calls about downed trees and wires in more than 145 locations.

Fire departments throughout the county were also busy responding to fires triggered by downed lines that were fanned by strong winds. Dozens of calls were logged, including one for a tree that impaled an occupied car in a Pavilion Township driveway.

YARD CLEANUP HELP

Cities are starting to set up drop-off sites for residents with downed tree limbs.

Grand Rapids residents can drop off tree branches at 2001 Butterworth SW from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on March 11, 18, 25 and the week of March 27. Grand Rapids will also offer curbside pickup of yard waste beginning March 27.

“There’s a lot of brush around the city. A lot of residents are picking up from the limbs. It’s a service we can provide to help our citizens to know, in a time of need, the city wants to reach out and be helpful to them,” Grand Rapids Public Services Director James Hurt told 24 Hour News 8.

East Grand Rapids will pick up tree branches and limbs from March 13 to 17, following the established yard debris pickup schedule. Limbs should be cut into four-foot lengths and piled next to the curb for pickup. Small branches should be tossed into paper yard waste bags or a reusable container no larger than 32 gallons.

East Grand Rapids will resume its regularly scheduled yard debris pickup the week of April 3.

For people whose local municipalities aren’t offering curb side pickup or waste drop offs, businesses like Cannonsburg Wood Products in Rockford are a good resource. They offer free dropoff for logs, $20 for brush dropped off from a pickup-sized trailer and $40 for a dump trailer.

–24 Hour News 8’s Lynsey Mukomel contributed to this report.