Thousands still without power 4 days after storm

Jamestown Township, storm damage, power outage
A downed power line in Jamestown Township three days after a storm ripped through West Michigan. (July 9, 2017)

JAMESTOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Thousands of people across West Michigan were still without electricity early Monday morning, more than 72 hours after severe storms swept through the region.

On Quincy Street in Jamestown Township, near Grandville, Dick Falbe and his wife were among those still waiting for the power to come back on Sunday.

“It was almost like it was a growl,” Falbe described the deadly storm that tore through early Friday. “When the wind gets so strong like that, it has a little noise to it.”

Almost immediately, the lights went out. The storm passed through quickly, and when the sun rose a few hours later, Falbe could see the strength of what he had heard.

“We had like four trees that went across the driveway,” Falbe told 24 Hour News 8 Sunday afternoon.

>>Inside Storm damage photos and video

Falbe’s home wasn’t damaged, but several trees were snapped and strewn about his yard and driveway. Crews were out at his property Sunday to pry a large tree off a power line. It wasn’t the first time workers were out there this weekend.

“This will be the fifth bunch of people to come, actually to look at it, and basically explain why they couldn’t do it,” Falbe noted.

Workers were finally able to remove the tree Sunday evening.

Falbe spent $1,800 to buy a gas-powered generator about 10 years ago. He fired it up after the storm.

“It’s one of those things that at the time you bought it, it seemed like a waste of money. You never use it. But boy, when you need it, it’s worth every penny,” Falbe said.

He’s been turning it on and off every two hours. It’s not strong enough to power the air conditioning, but works well enough to run water and keep food cold.

Experts say you should never power up a portable generator inside a home or garage, even if the doors and windows are open. They recommend using it only outside to ensure safety.

Not far from the Falbes’ house, those tasked with restoring his power and thousands of others set up shop. A Consumers Energy Mobile Command Center will be in Jenison until all power is restored.

“I always say no customer left behind, and I mean that,” Consumers Energy Vice President of Operations Guy Packard told 24 Hour News 8 Sunday morning.

Packard said he understands the frustrations of those still without service.

“I appreciate the customers’ patience at this point,” he said. “We are committed to getting every last customer on before we demobilize.”

>>Inside Consumers Energy outage map

As worked to restore power continued, so did the widespread cleanup. For the Falbes and so many others, it’s about making the best of it.

“Well, there are a lot of people that go out and buy state park stickers. They call this camping,” Falbe joked.

Consumers Energy said most customers should have power back by late Sunday night, but that those in the hardest hit areas, like the Falbes, will likely be waiting until sometime Monday.



OSHA on generator safety (PDF)

American Red Cross on generator safety