Tornado and first responder sirens blared across the state deep into the night on Aug. 24. After winds up to 90-miles-per hour ripped through Michigan, our crews cautiously followed the storm’s devastating wake. 

Replacing broken poles is a key part of every restoration effort, but especially after this storm which left a great number of broken poles across the state. 

Crews of lineworkers – typically made up of three to four people – went to work making sure any downed poles had their power de-energized. After all, our number one priority must be safety. 

Prepping the Job 

Then, once a safe work environment is established, the crew clears any tree limbs and other brush that might affect their upcoming work. 

Dawn hits the morning of Aug. 25, and crews shift into damage assessment mode. And with more than 5,000 wires down and hundreds of broken poles, there has been a lot to assess. 

When a crew comes across a downed pole, with a damaged cross arm and transformer, the crew leader calls dispatch. Dispatch then calls MISS DIG 811, which assigns a person to come and stake anything underground that could interfere with their work, including any underground lines.  

While the crew awaits MISS DIG’S response, they determine the pole classification by its height – generally 35- to 60-feet tall. 

Then they look at the area to make sure there are no more downed power lines and note any additional damage down the circuit.   

Once surveying is done, they return to headquarters or a staging location to pick up the poles, cross arms and transformers needed to complete the job before heading back to the job site.

Replacement Begins 

Now this is where the meat and potatoes of the job starts, which can take up to 10 hours depending on the damage to the pole and where it’s located. 

The broken pole is lifted out with special equipment. Usually, the new pole can be placed into the existing hole, but sometimes a new hole must be dug to fit a larger pole or deeper placement.  

A digger derrick gets the site ready and helps raise the new pole into position and straightens it. The crew fills in the hole by hand and makes sure the pole is stable. 

Keeping You Safe 

All that work takes time, and occasionally people want to help kickstart the process by starting some of the work for us.  

Until we can ensure there are no downed or hidden power lines on your property, we urge you to let skilled workers handle these jobs, including trimming tree branches and brush during electric restoration activities.  

If tree trimming is needed, cut branches are left where they came from so other customers can be restored as quickly as possible. Once this work is done and power is restored, customers can safely begin any storm cleanup in their yard.  

And please keep in mind that if you see a wire down, stay at least 25 feet away and report it by calling 9-1-1 and us at 800-477-5050. 


Watch this video for an idea of what happens during a pole replacement.

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