March 22 • 02:16 AM

Storm strains area crews

Fallen limbs, downed power lines lead to outages throughout area

Jason Watkins, Ryan Fisher, Spencer Howarth and Michael Burchi pitch in to help clear fallen tree at the home of John Watkins on Almont Avenue in Imlay City on Saturday. photo by Randy Jorgensen.

April 29, 2009
TRI-CITY AREA — Local residents are still cleaning up after heavy rain and winds up to 70 mph tore through the area Saturday afternoon, downing trees, power lines and structures.

The storm hit around 2:30 p.m. and was over in fewer than 10 minutes. But its aftermath lingers for some homeowners whose homes and vehicles were damaged by fallen limbs and trees.

DTE Energy reported that up to 80,000 homes in the Detroit metropolitan area experienced power outages, many for more than 48 hours. That number includes about 7,000 in in the Tri-City area.

In Imlay City, City Manager Amy Planck said power had been restored to most, if not all, businesses and residences by Monday.

"Our DPW is busy cleaning up today," she said. "There is quite a bit of brush to be picked up from the storm." While power had been restored, Planck noted that short, intermittent outages were still occurring during the day.

Imlay City Fire Chief Kip Reaves said that although the storm had been expected, no one could have predicted the damage that ensued.

On Saturday, firefighters responded to a reported house fire on S. Van Dyke that was attributed to the storm, said Reaves. They also responded to multiple reports of wires and tree limbs down, as well as arcing wires.

Imlay City firefighters later aided the Almont Fire Department with downed wires along M-53.

"On Sunday, we had two very high voltage DTE lines come down in front of Homer's Concrete on M-53 and in the 300 block of East First Street," said Reaves. "Both of the wires are from the Second Street substation and are main feeder lines for Imlay City, Capac and Emmett. DTE got one of the lines running about 11:30 p.m. Sunday night."

Because power was still available at many gas stations and businesses, residents from neighboring communities converged on Imlay City.

"Due to the outages, people came here to get fuel, food, ice, water and needed medicines," Reaves said. "At the end of the day on Sunday, the fire department was running low on fuel and had nowhere to fuel up."

In Almont, police, firefighters and DPW crews responded almost immediately to the impact of the storm.

Police Sgt. Bob Parsell said village residents aided in the cleanup of scattered debris and fallen tree limbs, ensuring that streets and roadways were made accessible to motorists as quickly as possible.

"We had an excellent response from all of our departments and from our citizens," said Parsell. "There was great cooperation.

"People volunteered and brought out their chainsaws, pickup trucks and tractors and that helped us out a lot," he continued. "With their help, we managed to get the trees cleaned up and all the roads open."

Parsell noted that in addition to the fallen limbs and trees, village and DTE Energy crews had to deal with downed cable, telephone and power wires at various locations.

By Monday morning, power was still out for portions of the village, including the traffic signals at the intersections of Main and St. Clair streets and Van Dyke and Tubsprings Rd.

"We (Almont police) had to get out there and direct traffic in the early morning hours," said Parsell. "Edison was trying to restore the power as fast as they could, but power was still spotty."

In Capac, Mussey Twp. firefighters responded to seven calls for downed power lines on Saturday.

On Sunday morning, they responded to an electrical fire at a home on N. Matteson St. in the village, also a result of the storm, said Chief Don Standel.

Standel said the power feed to the home was knocked down during the storm and eventually started the electrical components on fire. Firefighters were able to shut off the power to the home in time to prevent major damage. There was some smoke damage.

There were also reports of wind damage to the roofs of some downtown businesses.

In Dryden, police Chief Larry Pack said numerous trees fell over roads, but there was no severe damage reported.

Pack added that Dryden police assisted officers in Almont and Metamora who were forced to direct traffic due to traffic signal outages.

Some residents in Almont, Capac and Berlin Township, areas that appeared to take the brunt of the storm, were still without power through most of the day on Monday.

Power was reportedly restored to all of those areas by Monday night.

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