Josh Stellberger was heading home from work on Thursday night and had a whirlwind experience he won’t soon forget.
Driving to his Fenton home, he felt something a little too close to the hit movie “Twister.” The rain was beating down on his truck so hard that he could barely make out the white line in the middle of the road, the wind was whipping around him, causing some anxious moments.
And then a massive tree came flying out of nowhere and crashed onto the front of his truck, causing him to break hard and brace for impact. Miraculously, he was nearly unscathed, except for picking shards of glass out of his hands from the busted windshield.
Roller Coaster of Emotions
“I have never dealt with weather like this,” Stellberger said. “It felt like when you come to a stop on a roller coaster but with much more force behind it. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The rain came sideways, splashing up on the pavement about five inches high. It was unreal.”
While Mother Nature was unrelenting on Thursday night, our crews – joined by others throughout the country – are helping restore power in the aftermath of the latest massive storm that impacted approximately 200,000 homes and businesses from Grand Rapids to Southeast Michigan.
Restoration efforts will continue into the weekend with over 1,000 lineworkers and support teams working around the clock to restore most outages by the end of Sunday.
Shane Miron, a crew supervisor in Big Rapids, worked all night Thursday trying to put the crews in place to have successful restoration efforts.
“The feedback from our lineworkers is that there are some horrible conditions around the state with trees, poles and wires down,” Miron said. “But we will come through for our customers. We always do.”
As of Friday afternoon, we have restored more than 35,000 customers affected by winds that reached 75 miles per hour.
Over 660 crews will join the restoration effort, including crews from Kentucky, Alabama and Pennsylvania that should arrive in Michigan Friday and Saturday.
“Our all-hands-on-deck effort will continue today and throughout the weekend to restore power as quickly as possible for all customers impacted by this severe storm,” said Greg Salisbury, one of our Officers in Charge for the storm. “The safety of our customers and crews will remain the top priority as we work to make repairs, and we appreciate our customers’ patience.”
Customers can report check the status of their outage by visiting www.ConsumersEnergy.com/OutageCenter. They can also sign up to get outage alerts and restoration times sent to a phone, email or text message by texting ‘REG’ to 232273 or visit www.ConsumersEnergy.com/alerts.
Give Crews Grace
We caution people to stay at least 25 feet away from downed power lines, keep children and pets away, and report the issue by calling 9-1-1 and Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050. We also ask the public to keep a safe distance from crews.
Please also keep the following safety tips in mind:
- Be alert to crews working along roads. Drivers should slow down or stop and wait for oncoming traffic to clear so they safely can go past workers on roadsides.
- Never use a generator in an attached garage, basement, enclosed patio or near any air intakes. Doing so could cause a generator to produce hazardous levels of carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless and deadly gas. Read more guidance on safe generator use here.
- We will trim or remove trees interfering with electric restoration activities. Once safe to do so, clean-up of debris from tree trimming or removal during a storm emergency is the responsibility of individual property owners.
- In some cases, the mast that holds the electric service wires to a home or business may have been damaged or torn away. Crews will reconnect the wires to a home, but only a licensed electrician can repair or replace a mast or a cable.
Stellberger said customers – himself included – need to give the crews grace.
“They are the experts,” he said. “Let them safely do their job. Your power will be back on soon.”