LAKE ORION (WWJ) – On the heels of Severe Weather Awareness Week … a strong storm and winds rip through southeastern Michigan … leaving thousands of homes and businesses without power.

This is the season for severe weather … and that’s what the northern portions of Oakland, Macomb and St. Clair Counties experienced overnight.

Fallen utility poles fill a Lake Orion parking lot. (WWJ/Terri Lee)

Fallen utility poles fill a Lake Orion parking lot. (WWJ/Terri Lee)

DTE Energy spokesman Scott Simons says about 40,000 of their customers were without power as of Sunday evening.  As of Monday morning, that number dropped to 16,000.

“We know that we have about ten – eighty foot poles down in Lake Orion area, effecting multiple sub-stations so we are taking a lot at that, once we get those back it will bring back a lot of customers.”

“Some more crews are coming in to help the efforts,” said Simons. “We should have some restoration estimates later today (Sunday).”

“Stay away from any downed power lines and anything they are in contact with such as cars, fences. Stay at least twenty feet away and report those to us immediately,” he says.

Consumers Energy, meanwhile, says as of Monday morning, about 38,000 of its customers remain without power. The counties most affected are Genesee (2,900); Gratiot (900); Isabella (1,955); Kent (5,800); Mecosta (4,100); Montcalm (5,300); Muskegon (7,760); Newaygo (2,125) and Shiawassee (4,640). The utility says most of those without power should be restored by late tonight, although some in the Grand Rapids and Muskegon areas – which were hit most heavily by Saturday’s thunderstorms and 60 mph winds – will have to wait until Tuesday.

Chris Barnett is the supervisor of Orion Township, which was hit pretty hard by the storms, causing extensive damage.

“Rocks from the road riddled these buildings, it looks like bullet holes – so the winds were definitely powerful,” said Barnett.

He says he’s out with fire crews trying to determine just how bad things really are:

“There are a lot of blocked roads,” he says, “all of our fire department crews are out putting caution tape – there are wires down everywhere, they are out with chain saws now trying to clear those and working with DTE to make sure all of the lines are off before our guys are going near them.”

Barnett says it’ll definitely take a few days to access all the damage, noting that a lot of the lines have just seared off, including a lot of property damage, trees on cars, trees on across the roads.

He says thankfully no major injuries were reported.

Some folks without power are looking for a way to recharge:

Steve Hygel found one of the last generators available in town.

“Well, finding places that are open first of all was a miracle, the place I went to doesn’t even look like it’s open and they have one computer on and they were able to run my credit card. I called and said, ‘hold one for me I’m on my way,’ …” he said.

“Our shop is in Oxford and apparently we had a brown out for a second, but I didn’t know it was anything like this,” he added. “There are trees down everywhere, telephone poles down all out on M-24.”

Additional information on the storm – including DTE online Power Outage Map.

If you see or suspect a downed line or wire the number to call is 1-800-477-4747.

Sign up for severe weather text alerts: Text STORM to 95001
For daily weather forecast text alerts: Text FORECAST to 95001


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