Calm weather after the storm is helping utility crews restore power faster

The number of Consumers Energy customers without power is dwindling thanks to calmer weather and help from hundreds of utility workers from surrounding states.ã??

The number of Consumers Energy customers without power is dwindling thanks to calmer weather and help from hundreds of utility workers from surrounding states.ã??

Statewide, about 47,500

Consumers Energy

electric customers were without service as of 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. Since noon Sunday, approximately 296,000 customers have been affected by the storm, which included winds exceeding 60 mph.

"A second straight night of favorable weather conditions allowed us to make good restoration progress," said Mary Palkovich, the utility's vice president of energy delivery. "We continue to work safely to restore everyone's power and we express our thanks to our valued customers for their continued patience."

About 2,400 Consumers Energy and contract employees are working to restore power. This includes approximately 700 utility workers from eight states.

As of 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, areas most affected by electric interruptions were:

Allegan (2,349), Barry (3,469), Calhoun (3,363), Clare (3,297), Eaton (1,471), Genesee (5,128), Gladwin (1,214), Hillsdale (1,287), Ingham (1,304), Iosco (1,981), Jackson (1,681), Kalamazoo (4,864), Kent (955), Livingston (1,119), Midland (821) and Shiawassee (4,181).

Updated outage information is available on Consumers Energy's online map.

Because of the magnitude of the damage, some customers who have been without electric service since Sunday afternoon may not have their power restored until late Friday. Harder hit areas may not have their electric service restored until Saturday. Estimates will be updated as assessment and repairs continue. Additional storm activity may prolong restoration times.

Consumers Energy cautions residents to stay at least 25 feet away from any downed wires and to report them immediately by calling 1-800-477-5050 or their local law enforcement agency. The utility also reminds customers to be alert to utility crews working along roads and urges drivers to take extra precautions in those situations. In particular, drivers should slow down or stop and wait for oncoming traffic to clear so they safely can go past utility workers and equipment on roadsides. In addition, with the Michigan firearm deer season underway, hunters are encouraged to use extreme caution while in wooded areas, to be aware of any possible downed wires.

Customers who lose electricity for an extended period of time may want to investigate if public shelters are available. In most counties, residents can dial 2-1-1 to receive shelter information or to request assistance. Before going to a shelter, residents are asked to contact their local emergency management office to confirm the availability of services. Individuals are encouraged to check on elderly neighbors and family members who have limited mobility to see if they need assistance.

In some cases, the mast which holds the electric service wires to a customer's home or business may have been damaged or torn away. Utility crews will reconnect the wires to a home, but only a licensed electrician can repair or replace a mast or a cable.

Consumers Energy will trim or remove trees interfering with electric restoration activities. Once safe to do so, clean-up of debris from tree trimming or removal during a storm emergency is the responsibility of individual property owners.