SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) — A massive power outage that affected nearly 1 million DTE Energy customers in southeast Michigan is stretching into the weekend.
As of 9 p.m. Saturday, approximately 147,000 customers remain without power. DTE expects to have 90 percent of affected customers back online by Sunday night. The outages are widespread across the region, with the hardest hit areas in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties.
[Check DTE’s power outage map] (updated every 30 minutes)
Dave Johnson, Vice President of Customer Service for DTE, spoke live on WWJ Newsradio 9850 and said crews are working around-the-clock to get people back online.
“Other than making sure that we’re working on our infrastructure and and investing appropriately to ensure that we have a sound infrastructure, there’s not a lot of other things that you can do when the weather is as bad as it was this past week,” Johnson said.
DTE says crews have restored power to more than 653,000 of the 800,000 homes and businesses that went offline during the gale force winds that pounded the southeast Michigan area for 12 hours on Wednesday. The utility described it as a “once in a century weather event.”
“Our employees have been working around the clock for three straight days and we’re going to stay at it through the weekend to get everybody restored that we can,” said DTE president Trevor Lauer. “We’re out there and our crews are going to keep at it.”
In a Southfield neighborhood off of 9 Mile and Lahser roads, a massive pine tree fell clear across the street, completely blocking residents who live on Donovan Court.
“I’m in a hotel, I just came to check on my house, you know,” said Vickie Marshall, whose home was struck by the top of the tree. “It’s not well. I’m freezing. I went in that house just now — feel my hands, that house is cold.”
Lauer said he understands how difficult it can be to go days without power, especially in this bitter cold weather, but he’s hoping residents stay patient.
“There will be a handful of customers that go into Monday with the restoration and we certainly understand their frustration,” he said. “For anybody that finds themselves still out of power, just know that our employees are working very hard out in the field at very dangerous jobs and whatever support that they can give our crews would be appreciated.”
The high winds caused extensive tree damage, resulting in more than 9,000 reported downed power lines. Due to the unusually warm weather this winter, as well as significant rainfall, the ground is very soft and saturated. That, combined with the high winds, caused trees to uproot, falling onto poles and power lines.
DTE says it was the most significant weather event it has experienced in its more than 100-year history. Crews including more than 1,800 linemen and 700 contractors and workers from other states are working 16-hours shifts around the clock to restore power. DTE also has 700 tree trimmers working.
[To report and outage or downed line, call DTE Energy at 800-477-4747]