BAY CITY, MI — Crews worked diligently to restore power after a severe storm left thousands of customers in the dark in Bay City and beyond.
As power begins to return and debris is continually cleared, there is still work to be done.
Crews from Bay City Electric Light and Power (BCELP) Director Adam Webster have been working to restore power to the department’s service area, which includes Bay City and parts of Bangor, Frankenlust, Monitor and Portsmouth townships since that the storm hit on Thursday, June 16.
“At the height of our outages, we estimate that approximately 3,500 customers were without power in our service territory,” Webster said. “After working all day yesterday and well into the night, we estimate that number is now closer to the 1,700 mark. The bad weather that has hit our area has caused widespread destruction.
Webster explained that crews spent most of yesterday tending to downed lines and will be switching gears in the coming days.
“Our crews spent most of yesterday making sure all downlines were secure so no one was hurt,” Webster said. “Over the next few days, we will focus on energizing the remaining customers.”
Webster explained that it will be a slower process since this type of work will only restore one or two clients at a time.
The damage occurred after a severe thunderstorm swept through the southern part of Bay County after 4 a.m. Thursday.
The National Weather Service had issued a warning about the storm, saying wind gusts of 60 miles per hour were possible. A 67mph gust of wind was reported at MBS Airport at 4:12 a.m., according to the NWS.
“This storm has wreaked havoc across our entire service territory,” Webster said. “There doesn’t seem to be one area that has been more affected than another.”
Webster explained that the majority of the damage was caused by downed trees that blew the power lines with them as they fell.
“The winds caused trees to snap, uproot and snap,” he said. “This, in turn, broke poles, caused wire outages and took services away from homes. We estimate that approximately 98% of our service calls related to this storm are for trees.
The storm knocked out power to nearly 6,000 energy consuming customers in addition to BCELP customers who lost power.
Webster estimated that the last time a storm caused damage of this magnitude was in late July 2012, which caused a nine-day outage. However, Webster said he didn’t expect this event to take that long.
On Friday, mutual aid from different municipalities and power companies arrived to help BCELP teams with ongoing restoration efforts.
Webster said BCELP currently has five people from the Holland Board of Public Works, three from Thumb Electric Cooperative, two from the City of South Haven Electric, two from the Grand Haven Board of Light and Power and three from the Hydaker-Wheatlake Company loaning a help. hand to the city.
City Manager Dana Muscott praised the crews for their work after the storm as well as those of other city service members who stepped up to help.
“Our crews have been working non-stop since the storm hit to make sure everyone is safe and out of harm’s way,” she said. “The city was hit hard by the storm, and I’m proud of everyone in the electrical department and all the other departments who immediately stepped up.”
“The amount of teamwork and knowledge has been outstanding as each of the electrical department employees have worked and are working to get everyone back online,” she added. “We appreciate the patience of our residents during this time.”
There are currently no exact restoration times for specific addresses or areas, Webster said.
“Our crews take safety very seriously and we don’t skimp,” he said. “Bay City Electric prides itself on getting the job done as quickly as possible, and we always make sure the job is done safely and efficiently.”
As the cleanup continues, Webster reminds everyone to stay clear of downed power lines.
“A dead line and a live line on the ground, on a vehicle or on your fence – look exactly alike,” he said. “There is no visible sign that a line is still live and could seriously injure you, or worse. A live line also does not make a noise or smell alerting you to danger. If you see a downed line, never assume it is safe.
Webster added that things like a puddle, metal fences and other objects can conduct electricity from downed lines, making them potentially deadly to those who come in contact with them.
If you see a down line, contact the BCELP dispatcher at 989-894-8350 to report it.
As the cleanup continues, Bay City residents with tree debris from the storm will be able to participate in two special collection days.
The City of Bay City has announced that it will be picking up tree debris on Wednesday June 22 and Thursday June 23. The city will only pick up debris up to 10 inches in diameter.
During this time, residents who have construction debris to deal with due to the storm can book an appointment online at the Bay City Transfer Station at: https://www.baycitymi.org/697/Drop-Off-Services.
Learn more about MLive:
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Do you have storm damage? Bay City offers two dates for tree debris pickup
Bay City crews work on widespread power outages after severe thunderstorm
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