July 16 • 07:11 PM

Big wind, big problems

Outages continue for hundreds of residents living in the Almont area

Even a speed control warning couldn’t slow the descent of this tree on Almont Road, east of M-53. photo by Tom Wearing.

June 11, 2008
TRI-CITY AREA — The severe winds and heavy rain that swept through the area Sunday afternoon hit Almont and Imlay City particularly hard.

Sunday's storm event, which arrived around 6 p.m., marked three successive days of wild weather in the area.

Straightline winds estimated at 70 mph on Sunday, took down trees, limbs and power lines in Almont, resulting in power outages that continue for many.

Almont Village Manager Gerald Oakes said police, firefighters and DPW workers were quick to respond to the latest storm's aftermath, minimizing some potentially dangerous situations.

"We've been through this before," said Oakes. "The various departments responded well and everyone knew what to do. By 9 p.m., the roads were clear, except for some downed wires that had to be secured by the fire department."

While much of the debris had been cleaned up by Monday morning, power had yet to be restored to many parts of the village.

"The wastewater treatment plant is running on a generator," said Oakes. "So are the village offices. The traffic signals are out at the four corners, so we have two officers out there directing traffic."

Main Street resident Susan Zammit said Sunday's storm was a continuum of what had taken place the previous two days.

"I'm a little traumatized by all this weather," said Zammit, who lost a tree in a storm Friday, only to be watching from her window as another came down in her yard on Sunday.

"These were some old trees, but I've never witnessed weather like this in all the years I've been alive," Zammit said. "I've never ever heard wind like that."

Zammit gave credit to village and county emergency personnel for their rapid response.

"I called 911 and they were here within 10 minutes," she said. "The emergency workers did the best they could to keep up, but it's a mess around here."

Imlay City firefighters were also kept busy over the weekend, responding to 15 calls from Thursday evening through Sunday.

"Two of those calls were tornado warnings that trained weather spotters called in to Central Dispatch," said Fire Chief Kip Reaves. "The other 13 calls were for downed wires, one of which was a tree on Main Street that fell on a car, totaling the vehicle."

Reaves noted that unless there is a public safety issue like a fire or arcing wires, local fire departments can only secure areas with safety tape and caution barriers, then leave the areas.

When downed wires involve fires or arcing, he said, the protocol is for local fire departments to wait for DTE workers to respond.

Complicating matters for Imlay City firefighters Sunday, one of the department's trucks broke down and had to be towed to a repair facility, leaving the department one truck short, Reaves lamented.

"There are days we have some control over situations," said Reaves, "and there are days like Friday, Saturday and Sunday when Mother Nature and Murphy's Law take over, and we can only react."

Power still out for many

Murphy's Law continued for hundreds of Almont area residents who were still without power as of Tuesday afternoon.

DTE Energy officials reported that nearly 200,000 Michigan residents were without electrical power on Tuesday. Workers were reportedly hampered in their efforts by continuing rain.

They hoped that power could be restored to about 90 percent of the affected residents by Thursday.

Dryden Police Chief Larry Pack said that residents of at least seven or eight homes were affected by downed trees and power lines as of Tuesday morning. Pack said Detroit Edison crews might not be able to make repairs until Thursday.

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