Firefighters Still Busy After Wednesday's Wind Storm
March 9, 2017
After a grueling day Wednesday, local first responders and firefighters were back at it again today.
About one million utility customers were left in the dark following yesterday’s massive windstorm. DTE is labeling the storm the worst in its history, with more than 800,000 customers impacted. DTE Energy and Consumers Energy officials joined the governor today to detail the damage and restoration efforts and say most electrical service should be restored by this weekend. Area residents are being reminded to use extreme caution around downed trees and power lines as many lines are down and still energized.
The Brighton Area Fire Authority typically responds to 5 or 6 calls a day. It logged over 75 calls Wednesday, most of which were reports of large trees down and blocking roads, power wires down or sparking and grass fires due to the extremely dry conditions. Fire Chief Mike O’Brian tells WHMI calls just started coming in around 9:30am and didn’t stop. He says staff performed well and they also had help from the City DPW and the Livingston County Road Commission with clearing streets and removing trees so they could respond to calls. O’Brian said he can only imagine the call volume Central Dispatch was dealing with and they were outstanding to work with. He says no doubt DTE is overloaded and fire crews today responded to a lot of calls they were previously on that had either been banner-guarded or turned over to DTE. He says many were related to people or changing conditions such as trees being on wires but later having the weight shift so that a live wire was now on a home or garage.
O’Brian said he was surprised at how many large trees were uprooted around the community and noted they’ve also seen a shift in runs that can be created because of a power outage, which they expect. Crews responded to a chimney fire today in which the homeowners lost power and had not used their fireplace in a few years. For anyone running a generator, O’Brian reminds that it needs to be outside and well vented so that the exhaust is not venting inside causing a carbon monoxide issue.
Meanwhile, there are still no solid numbers of how many customers are affected by power outages in Livingston County or any restoration estimates from DTE Energy. Online outage maps also do not reflect actual outages. Two warming centers will be available for Friday and Saturday in Livingston County; the Red Cross building in Howell and the 2/42 Church in Brighton. Those with overnight sheltering needs should contact 2-1-1. All other emergencies related to the power outage should contact 9-1-1.
In addition to power outages to homes and businesses, the wind caused some traffic control signals to go dark and Michigan State Police are offering clarification on who has the right of way. An intersection apparently reverts back to the basic right-of-way requirements, not a four-way stop. Officials say it's never a four way stop unless temporary signage has been posted. It was also clarified that any street or road with heavier traffic has the right of way when traffic lights are out. Finally, when two vehicles enter an intersection from different roadways at approximately the same time, the driver on the right has the right of way.
The afternoon update from Consumers Energy is attached. Photo - Brighton Area Fire Authority.(JM)