Some southwest Michigan residents still without power, cleaning up damage following Sunday storm

By CHRISTINA CLARK & SARAH CULTON

 

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN – After rounds of strong storms overnight Sunday and into the early hours of Monday morning, thousands of residents in southwest Michigan woke up in the dark, with tree and hail damage right outside their doors.

Though the cities of Niles and Dowagiac reported minimal tree damage due to the storm, outside of city limits, Cass County was hit hard. Residents reported hail and tree damage throughout the county. In both the Sister Lakes and Diamond Lake areas, residents reported several trees down, with some structural damage to surrounding properties.

One such resident was Dawn East, of Hidden Acres Safe Haven, 50582 Pleasant St., Dowagiac. When she stepped outside Monday morning, she was greeted with damage that was clear and impossible to miss. A tree had fallen on the backside of a barn, while various branches destroyed fences around the farm.

“At this point, it’s hard to tell how much damage there really is,” East said around 10 a.m. “But it’s clear there’s a lot of work to be done.”

Hidden Acres Safe Haven is a nonprofit created by Hidden Acres Petting Farm. It provides homes to unwanted livestock animals or other farm animals who were born with disabilities. The nonprofit also cares for and assists with kitten adoptions.

East predicted the damage caused by the storm would result in days of clean-up. Monday morning, she put a call out on Facebook asking the community for help cleaning up the farm and moving animals to safe locations. Little more than an hour later, she said she had received responses from several volunteers willing to help.

“We have such an awesome community,” East said. “They always step up and help us. We are very thankful to have such a wonderful, helping community.”

With the wind and tree damage came power outages across the southwest Michigan region.

In Niles, Niles utility crews restored power to the areas around Superior and Michigan streets by 9:30 p.m. Sunday evening. On Monday morning, outages in the Ballard Hills area were restored right before 10 a.m.

At 11:30 a.m. Monday, Amy Pales, communications specialist for Midwest Energy and Communications, reported that 2,087 customers were still without power after the overnight storms. At the peak of outages, around 4:30 a.m., around 3,700 MEC customers were without power.

“MEC has several broken poles to replace, and several additional outside crews have joined the restoration effort,” Pales said in a release.

MEC customers impacted by the power outages included those in the townships of Antwerp, Flowerfield, Jefferson, Marcellus, Mason, Milton, Porter, Paw Paw, Prairie Ronde, Silver Creek, Volinia, Waverly and Wayne.

According to Indiana Michigan Power, crews had restored power to more than 8,000 customers by 10:30 a.m. Monday, with 19,500 across South Bend, Elkhart and southwest Michigan areas still in need of power.

Approximately 9,500 of those experiencing outages with Indiana Michigan Power were in southwest Michigan. In the greater Benton Harbor area, 2,400 customers were impacted. The Buchanan area had about 3,800 customers affected, and the Three Rivers area 3,300 customers still without power.

“At the peak of storms early Monday morning, more than 28,000 customers were without service. In addition, high winds caused widespread damage, including several downed trees and power lines,” said a release from Indiana Michigan Power. “A 65 mile per hour wind gust was recorded near Lawton, Michigan, and a 48 mile per hour wind gust was recorded in South Bend.”

Indiana Michigan Power had crews coming to the South Bend, Elkhart and southwest Michigan areas from Muncie and Fort Wayne to help restore power. The estimated time for power restoration is early Monday afternoon.

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