DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Crews are working to wrap up power restoration after weekend storms knocked out electrical service to tens of thousands of Michigan homes and businesses.

DTE Energy says about 22,000 customers remain without power following heavy wind gusts and rainfall throughout Saturday that caused trees, tree limbs and power lines to fall. A DTE spokesman says the outages are scattered around the tri-county area – but more than half of the outages are in Wayne County.

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Outages are scattered throughout southeastern Michigan, including 16,000 DTE customers in Wayne County and 4,000 in Oakland County. DTE says some small clusters of customers and individual service problems won’t be dealt with until Tuesday

Nearly 200 linemen from neighboring utilities have joined the restoration effort and DTE continues to seek additional assistance.

The utility’s crews are continuing to make repairs around-the-clock, but there’s no timetable yet on when power will be restored.

Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp. says about 4,000 of its customers were affected and almost all were back online by early Sunday.

In Portage, Michigan members of four central Michigan churches damaged by a tornado came together in prayer Sunday morning at a high school.

Epic Community Church, First Baptist Church, First Congregational Church and United Methodist Church held a joint Sunday service at Portland High School. The congregations have 900 combined members and plan to gather at the school for another service next Sunday, TV station WXMI reported.

Storms Monday and Tuesday spawned several tornadoes around Michigan, causing destruction but no deaths.

About 70 homes and a dozen businesses in Portland sustained damage Monday when a tornado there brought winds that reached 100 miles per hour.

Crews took down the steeple of First Baptist Church because of fears it would collapse. The church building dates back to 1877.

The Rev. Gary Coleman said the past week has been tough on his congregation, which celebrated the 175th anniversary of its founding two weeks ago.

“They are going through a grieving process,” Coleman told the Lansing State Journal. “They have lost something that has been a part of their lives for numerous years.”

The First Congregation Church was built in 1853 and was added to the national Register of Historic Places in 1984. While the fellowship hall and adjacent parsonage may survive, it’s questionable whether the main sanctuary can be repaired, said the Rev. Marilyn Danielson.

“The people over the generations have invested a lot of physical and mental labor to keep this historic building functioning,” Danielson said. “We just had the windows glazed and replaced the furnace after the basement flooded recently.”

Danielson’s church celebrated a $144,000 steeple renovation last year. The steeple collapsed into the sanctuary during the tornado.

“We baptized all of our babies there,” said Jan Switzer, who has attended First Congregational Church for 67 years. “Our wedding was there as well as other family weddings.

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“It was just so emotional and heartbreaking,” she said. “You hope for the best, but there was just so much structural damage.”

Storm tips:

· Never drive across a downed power line. If a power line falls on your vehicle, remain inside until help arrives.

· 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.

· Customers who depend on a well for drinking water need to plan ahead on how they will obtain water. Store containers of water for cooking and washing.

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