Storm leaves city tangled, twisted mess

Published 8:31 pm Thursday, July 22, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- The violent storm that ripped through Niles Wednesday night caused severe damage and power outages across the city.
The east side of the city was hit particularly hard with downed trees and power lines at almost every turn.
But, Niles City Fire Chief Larry Lamb said the damage was pretty widespread throughout the city.
He said the power was shut down to the entire east side as a safety precaution.
Lamb said there were no known injuries from the storm.
Immediately following the storm, Niles City Police officers were patrolling the dark streets with flashlights and yellow police tape barricading any dangerous areas.
The Niles City Fire Department alone responded to about 90 different points around the city for power line concerns and downed trees on houses, Lamb said.
Niles Street Department crews were also busy last night trying to clear up the streets.
At 10:30 p.m., the workers were armed with chainsaws and front end loaders working to remove the trees and debris from the roadways.
It was also a long night for the city contracted Nelson Tree Service.
At 7 a.m., Nelson worker Mark Jann said they had been working non-stop since 8 p.m.
The crew was concentrating on getting large trees off of the power lines, so that the city could restore power as soon as possible.
Mike Sabones, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, attributed the strong winds associated with last night's storm to a weather formation called a bow echo.
When confronted with a disaster like this, Lamb said it is essential that everyone involved in the safety and clean-up efforts be on the same page.
The city and township police and fire departments worked together with the help of the dispatchers to make sure that all areas of concern were being addressed.
SMCAS, EMS and fire departments from Berrien Springs, Clay and Lake Township also helped with the safety issues.