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Hundreds of thousands throughout Lower Peninsula still without power after major storms, floods

cloudy, thunderstorm sky with lightning
Lewis Meyers

Update, August 13, 2021 at 8:30 a.m.

Crews are working to restore power to hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents Friday morning after major storms swept through much of the Lower Peninsula this week.

Consumers Energy says it expects to restore power to most homes and businesses by Saturday night. At its peak, more than 350,000 Consumers Energy customers were down.

DTE Energy says the storms knocked out power to about 700,000 customers. DTE Energy says it's targeting to restore power to 80% of its customers by the end of Saturday.

Update, August 12, 2021 at 4:42 p.m.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer toured a Consumers Energy substation in Okemos, not far from a partially submerged playground along the rain-swollen Red Cedar River. The utility said it was on pace to restore power to about 100,000 customers Thursday, with more than 200,000 restorations expected by the end of the weekend.

Whitmer noted that the heavy rains from the storms even flooded the basement of the official residence.

“I’m not complaining or comparing my situation to others; there are many who are stressed out and exhausted from this," she said. "We’re going to do everything we can to help keep people safe and help them recover.”

Whitmer said as climate change fuels more severe weather events more frequently, it’s important for Michigan to rebuild its infrastructure to withstand those events.

Utility crews in Michigan are working to restore power to hundreds of thousands of customers who were left in the dark following severe storms this week.

Consumers Energy says it hopes to restore electricity to most of its customers by Saturday night. About 218,000 customers remain without power.

Garrick Rochow, CEO of CMS Energy and Consumers, says crews are coming to help from across the country.

“We’ve got 450 crews and they’re from all different states. They’re out of Missouri, New York, Tennessee," he said. "They’re here in Michigan, there’s more coming in. That gives me a lot of optimism about our restoration progress today and into Friday.”

In the meantime, Consumers Energy's linesmen are on 16 hour shifts - with safety concerns slowing things down a bit.

"With the temperatures approaching 90, very, very high humidity, in some cases we're having to demand that they take breaks, hydrate, so that they can continue to obviously work and be safe through that full 16 hours," Guy Packard, vice president for electric operations at Consumers, said.

Consumers Energy says this week’s storms rank among the 10 most severe outage incidents from a single weather event in the utility’s history.

DTE Energy, however, has not released an estimate for when it hopes to restore power to most of its customers.

More than 584,000 DTE customers remain without electricity.

Original post, August 12, 2021 at 7:22 a.m.

Heat and humidity broiled parts of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and other midwestern states Wednesday while storms accompanied by heavy rain bowled over trees and flooded roads. Thousands of homes and businesses in western and northern parts of Michigan's Lower Peninsula remained without power following damage to power lines.

Wind gusts reached about 70 mph in some areas, including the Dorr area south of Grand Rapids, toppling trees, limbs and power lines. Winds of between 30 and 50 mph were reported across a larger area. The National Weather Service has issued heat advisories for the Chicago area, much of Indiana and the Detroit area where heat indices are expected to get up to 100 degrees. In the Detroit area, heat indices are expected to be in the 90s.

Powerful storms yesterday afternoon and overnight that followed damaging winds earlier this week have left massive and widespread power outages across the Lower Peninsula. Severe thunderstorm warnings are still being listed throughout the area today, as well as flash flood warnings in Livingston County and parts of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb counties. 

In Southeast Michigan and the Thumb, DTE Energy is reporting more than 556,000 customers without power. DTE is encouraging customers to report outages or downed powerlines at outage.dteenergy.com/ or through the DTE app. The company is experiencing technical issues via its phone carrier, so is encouraging customers not to call. 

In West Michigan and Northern Lower Michigan, Consumers Energy says 249,000 of its customers do not have electricity as of 7:45 a.m. Consumers Energy tweeted earlier Thursday morning that they were receiving help from crews from seven different states and hoped to have power restored to many of their customers today. 

This is a developing story.

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.
Doug Tribou joined the Michigan Public staff as the host of Morning Edition in 2016. Doug first moved to Michigan in 2015 when he was awarded a Knight-Wallace journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Lauren Talley is Michigan Radio’s Morning Edition producer. She produces and edits studio interviews and feature stories, and helps manage the “Mornings in Michigan” series. Lauren also serves as the lead substitute host for Morning Edition.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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