Crews making progress but thousands still without power

Crews working on restoring power following Sunday's severe weather say they are making steady progress, but some of the hardest hit areas may not see electricity restored until late Friday.

Crews working on restoring power following Sunday's severe weather say they are making steady progress, but some of the hardest hit areas may not see electricity restored until late Friday.

Statewide, about 118,000

Consumers Energy

electric customers were without service as of 4 a.m. Tuesday. Since noon Sunday, nearly 284,000 customers have been impacted by the storm, which included winds topping 60 mph.

"We are working around the clock, in freezing conditions, to restore power," said Mary Palkovich, the utility's vice president of energy delivery. "We appreciate the patience of our valued customers and thank the men and women who are out in the elements doing their job safely to get the lights back on."

When including all personnel, from call center representatives to damage assessors and lineworkers, more than 1,900 Consumers Energy and contract employees from eight different states are working to restore power.

Here are the latest numbers of power outages as of 4 a.m. Tuesday:

Allegan (3,836); Arenac (1,057), Barry (4,472), Bay (1,193), Branch (1,593), Calhoun (4,856), Clare (7,215), Clinton (1,882), Eaton (4,734), Emmet (124), Genesee (12,706), Gladwin (1,877), Hillsdale (2,524), Ingham (5,061), Ionia (1,839), Iosco (1,962), Jackson (6,115), Kalamazoo (9,352), Kent (5,792), Lenawee (2,896), Livingston (1,149), Midland (6,986), Monroe (1,278), Montcalm (1,838), Muskegon (1,326), Ogemaw (1,420), Ottawa (2,613), Roscommon (2,560), Saginaw (2,206), Shiawassee (5,696) and VanBuren (4,070)

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.

With schools canceled, parents are reminded to be aware of possible downed power lines in the area before allowing children to play outdoors. Parents should also tell their children of the dangers of downed power lines and to stay away and report them immediately. 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.

Customers who call Consumers Energy to report a power outage are encouraged to use the utility's automated reporting option, available at 1-800-477-5050. The service provides restoration information for each substation and circuit, and can be used to report an outage. Outages can also be reported and restoration information obtained via Consumers Energy's online outage map.

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.