Ice storm recovery in Lansing
UPDATE: Power was restored to about 5,000 BWL customers, bringing the outage total down from about 35,000 on Sunday to 30,000 by early Monday. Downed power lines increased from 300 to more than 400.
LANSING – An ice storm is the Grinch that may steal Christmas, forcing families to change travel plans as mid-Michigan relatives coped with the results of raining ice, fallen tree branches and downed power lines.
Statewide, more than 196,000 residences were out of power, with almost 40,000 in the Lansing area. Consumers Energy is forecasting that some of its 11,000 Eaton County customers may not get power until Saturday.
The Board of Water & Light was making no such estimates as to when power may return to its 21,000 customers still without power, largely Lansing and East Lansing. At least 200 downed wires have been reported and are being prioritized for repair. Restoration of electrical service for many residents will not begin for at least 24 hours and service could be out beyond that.
Many church services were cancelled and even Potter Park Zoo closed due to flooding.
As light dawned early Sunday, people ventured out to see tree branch-filled yards and strangely quiet neighborhoods with no lights. They ruefully observed it may not even be safe to walk, as the occasional tree limb still crashed to the ground, followed by a tinkling of ice.
No “It’s a Wonderful Life” on the TV, no Christmas carols filling the house. Instead, families picked up wood strewn across lawns and used it in fireplaces. They salvaged what they could from any special meals planned and pulled out the board games to pass the time, in hopes power and heat would return soon.
They went to Meijer to buy propane grills, firewood, chainsaws and Coleman lamps.
They tried and gave up reporting storm damage – Board of Water and Light’s voicemail box was full. And then they went on Facebook to complain about it – if they had a smartphone for connectivity, that is. And then they went to buy gas to keep the car available as an occasional warming spot and phone charger.
The storm will surely change the face of neighborhoods from DeWitt to East Lansing and beyond.
• Follow MLive’s weather coverage here | Ice storm recovery in Lansing
Utilities continually warned to stay 25 feet away from downed wires, while county agencies continually requested people to NOT call 911 for storm damage or road updates.
Warming centers are at Trinity Church, 3355 Dunckel Road, in Lansing, and Mount Hope Church at 202 S. Creyts Road. People must bring ID, bedding and their own food.
All residents are advised to seek temporary shelter with family or friends if at all possible, reserving Red Cross facilities for those without that option. The phone number for Red Cross is 517-484-7461 and residents are asked to call this number instead of 911.
A 211 number has been set up to handle non-emergency requests. All residents are asked to use this number in lieu of 911 for non-emergency requests.
The East Lansing Hannah Community Center and East Lansing Bailey Community Center (including its childcare program) will be closed Monday, Dec. 23 due to the power outages.
By Meegan Holland | firstname.lastname@example.org