Dowagiac school, airport sustain major damagePublished 2:50pm Thursday, April 8, 2010
By JOHN EBY
DOWAGIAC – In some ways, it replayed last June’s assault on the Armory and airport, but high winds which struck suddenly at almost the stroke of midnight substituted Union High School and Chris Taylor Alumni Field and cut a wider swath.
The concession stand on the visitor side of the football field was reduced to a heap of scrap wood while Dowagiac-Union High School, which is on spring break, suffered roof damage.
Utility poles along West Prairie Ronde were bent at an angle, as though saluting a motorcade, and they were wrapped with pieces of sheet metal.
Debris and trees also came to rest in front of the high school, where personnel were on the roof assessing the damage.
Dowagiac residents were without power for several hours and some remained so this morning.
East Division Street was closed near Encore School of the Performing Arts by a large branch resting on a primary power line.
Elsewhere, trees were uprooted, including one by Patrick Hamilton Elementary School.
Rich Frantz, Dogwood Fine Arts Festival visiting authors chairman, had one on his house on Main Street.
On the other side of the street from the football field, the Joe Rohacs residence on Spruce Street, had its chimney and TV tower toppled by the swift storm. An evergreen tree blocked the sidewalk.
In Burmax Park, a huge pine tree was uprooted in Southwestern Michigan College President David Mathews’ front yard.
His wife, Sarah, said, “The storm sounded like a train going by. You could feel the wind sucking at our windows like it was going to bust them all out.”
In Cassopolis, Midwest Energy Cooperative estimated about 6,000 members without service as of 4:30 a.m. today after strong windstorms blew through the region overnight.
Outages are scattered all over southwest Michigan, with the majority being in the northeast portion of the cooperative’s service territory.
Transmission was lost to two substations affecting customers in the Marcellus and Schoolcraft areas and cooperative officials were awaiting word from the power supplier regarding restoration.
Once transmission is restored to the substations, cooperative officials will be better able to determine the full extent of damage and outages on its own system in those areas.
Crews have been in the field since the early morning hours working on clean up and restoration efforts.
Midwest Energy Cooperative is a member-owned electric utility providing electric distribution and an assortment of energy-related programs and services to more than 35,000 customers in 11 counties in southern Michigan and northern Indiana and Ohio.