DETROIT (WWJ) – DTE Energy officials are warning some residents in metro Detroit to prepare to be without power for days after one of the strongest storms of the year knocked nearly 400,000 homes and business off the grid.

Friday’s storm packed quite a punch, with wind gusts of more than 75 miles an hour and nickel-size hail. DTE Energy said hundreds of trees and more than 2,000 power lines came down, causing 385,000 residents to lose power.

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As of 11 a.m. Saturday, approximately 350,000 customers remain without power.

“Wayne County was definitely the hardest hit, we have 188,000 customers without power in Wayne County alone; another 74,000 customers in Oakland County and 33,000 customers in Macomb, as well as 31,000 in Washtenaw County,” said Scott Simons, DTE Energy spokesman.

Check the DTE outage map, HERE.

Simons said the storm system was gigantic, causing severe damage across their entire southeastern Michigan service area. He said it was the 10th largest storm in the company’s more than 100-year history, in terms of outages, and one of the strongest to hit the area this year.

“We didn’t anticipate the magnitude of this storm,” he said. The largest storm was back in 1991, when 684,000 customers experienced power outages.

Given the size and impact of this storm, some customers could be without power for several days. The storm has impacted much of the Midwest, but DTE has enlisted the help of more than 300 linemen from utilities in Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

“We’ll  have more specific estimates Saturday afternoon, but right now we know that the restoration will last several days, at least into next week,” Simons said.

DTE Energy spokesman Alejandro Bodipo Memba said one of the most important things for residents to remember during a power outage is to stay clear of downed power lines and anything the lines might be in contact with.

“One of the things that we can’t stress enough is that in situations like this, we need everybody to recognize that if they encounter a downed power line, that they need to stay at least 20 feet away and consider it live. It’s imperative that people make certain they are safe,” he said.

Residents should call DTE Energy at 1-800-477-4747 to report downed lines.

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Storm tips:

· Don’t open refrigerators or freezers more often than absolutely necessary. A closed refrigerator will stay cold for 12 hours. Kept closed, a well-filled freezer will preserve food for two days.

· Turn off or unplug all appliances to prevent an electrical overload when power is restored. Leave on one light switch to indicate when power is restored.

· Always operate generators outdoors to avoid dangerous buildup of toxic fumes.

· If a customer is elderly or has a medical condition that would be adversely impacted by a power outage, they should try to make alternative accommodations with family or friends.

· During low-voltage conditions – when lights are dim and television pictures are smaller – shut off motor-driven appliances such as refrigerators to prevent overheating and possible damage. Sensitive electronic devices also should be unplugged.

· Stay out of flooded or damp basements or other areas if water is in contact with outlets or any electrically-operated appliance. The water or moisture may serve as a conductor of electricity. This can cause serious or even fatal injury.

· Assemble an emergency kit. It should include a battery-powered radio, a flashlight and candles, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a fire extinguisher, bottled water and non-perishable food.

· Customers who depend on electrically powered medical equipment should ask their physician about an emergency battery back-up system. If a customer is elderly or has a medical condition that would be adversely impacted by a power outage, they should develop an emergency plan that allows for alternative accommodations with family or friends.

· Keep a corded or cell phone on hand because a cordless telephone needs electricity to operate. Also, customers should learn how to manually open automated garage doors.

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