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As new ice storm worries loom, customers find ways to cope

Judy Putnam
This was Christmas dinner at the Putnam house

There are times when warm weather is not a good thing, and this is one such time.

Brian Wheeler is with Consumers Energy.  He says the severe ice storm that struck a big portion of the state early Sunday left extremely heavy ice on the trees.

"The ice has been pushing trees and tree limbs into different positions," says Wheeler.  "A rapid melt could cause them to snap back into a different position pretty quickly too, and as they move suddenly, they could interfere with power lines yet again."

So for the the thousands of people still waiting for the lights and heat to go back on:

"We're watching the situation carefully, being cautious," Wheeler says, "and letting folks know that there is a chance that work we were expecting to finish on Saturday could be pushed into Sunday."

Meanwhile, people have been coping in some creative ways.

Judy Putnam lives in East Lansing.  Her family borrowed a generator after a couple of days of huddling near the fireplace.

They're all sleeping in the living room, which is a comfy 63 degrees now. 

They invited friends over for Christmas Day, and Putnam's husband braved the snow and cold and cooked the dinner outside on the barbeque.

Rufus Isaacs of Lansing moved his family into the Comfort Inn on Sunday, where they've stayed ever since, waiting and waiting for the lights to go back on in their west side neighborhood.

They celebrated Christmas Day in their hotel room.

Isaacs says they couldn't move the big tree they already had in their home, but their seven-year-old daughter had a little purple tree in her bedroom.

"So we set it up in the corner, hung the stockings next to the microwave, and improvised.  And luckily Santa found us on Christmas Eve."

Isaacs went home recently to drain the water pipes so they wouldn't break. 

The family finally acquired a generator, and so, after a week in a hotel, they're planning to move back home this weekend, whether or not their electricity is back.

Putnam says she'll be pretty unhappy if the power is not back on in time to watch the Rose Bowl.

But for now, she's doing her best to look at the bright side.

"All the trees have been iced and have snow on them, and when the sunlight hits it, it's like every tree is lit up.  It's like nothing I've ever seen, it's just incredibly beautiful."

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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