BAY CITY, MI – Crews have been diligently working to restore power after a severe storm left thousands of customers in the dark in Bay City and beyond.
While power is starting to come back on and debris is constantly cleared away, there’s still more work to be done.
Bay City Electric Light and Power (BCELP) director Adam Webster’s crews have been working to restore power in the department’s service area, which includes Bay City and parts of Bangor, Frankenlust, Monitor and Portsmouth townships since the storm hit on Thursday, June 16.
“At the peak of our outages, we estimate that approximately 3,500 customers were without power in our service territory,” Webster said. “After working all day yesterday and well into the night, we estimate this number is now closer to the 1,700 mark. The inclement weather that hit our area caused widespread destruction.”
Webster explained that crews spent most of yesterday attending to downed lines and that they will shift gears in the upcoming days.
“Our crews spent most of the daylight yesterday making sure all down lines were made safe so no one was injured,” Webster said. “Over the next few days, we will focus on energizing the remaining customers.”
Webster explained that this will be a slower process since this type of work will only restore one or two customers at a time.
The damage happened after a severe-warned thunderstorm swept through the southern portion of Bay County after 4 am Thursday.
The National Weather Service had issued a warning regarding the storm, stating that 60 mile per hour wind gusts were possible. A 67 mph wind gust was reported at the MBS Airport at 4:12 am, according to the NWS.
“This storm wreaked havoc on our entire service territory,” Webster said. “There doesn’t seem to be one area that was affected more than another.”
Webster explained that the majority of the damage was caused by trees being downed by the wind that took powerlines down with them as they fell.
“Winds caused trees to break, uproot, and break limbs,” he said. “In turn, this broke poles, caused down wires, and pulled services away from homes. We estimate that approximately 98% of our calls for service related to these storm trees involve.”
The storm took out power to almost 6,000 Consumers Energy Customers in addition to the BCELP customers who lost power.
Webster estimated that the last time a storm caused this magnitude of damage was in late July 2012, which caused a nine-day outage event. However, Webster said that he does not anticipate this event taking nearly as long.
On Friday, mutual aid from different municipalities and electric companies arrived to help BCELP crews in the ongoing restoration efforts.
Webster said BCELP currently has five individuals from the Holland Board of Public Works, three from Thumb Electric Cooperative, two from City of South Haven Electric, two from Grand Haven Board of Light and Power, and three from the Hydaker-Wheatlake Company lending a helping hand to the city.
City Manager Dana Muscott praised crews for their work after the storm plus those of other city department members who stepped up to the plate to help out.
“Our crews have been working nonstop since the storm hit to ensure that everyone was safe and out of harm’s way,” she said. “The city was hit hard by the storm, and I am proud of everyone in the electric department and all the other departments that pitched in immediately.”
“The amount of teamwork and knowledge has been outstanding, as each and everyone one of the electric department employees have been and are working to get everyone back online,” she added. “We appreciate the patience of our residents during this time.”
There’s currently no exact restoration timeframe for specific addresses or areas, said Webster.
“Our crews take safety extremely seriously, and we don’t cut corners,” he said. “Bay City Electric takes pride in getting the job done as quickly as possible, and we always ensure work is done safely and efficiently.”
As the cleanup continues, Webster is reminding everyone to stay clear from downed power lines.
“A de-energized line and an energized line on the ground, laying on a vehicle or on your fence – look exactly the same,” he said. “There are no visible signs a line still has power and can badly harm you, or worse. Nor does an energized line make a noise or have a smell alerting you to the danger. If you see a downed line never assume it is safe.”
Webster added that things such as a puddle of water, metal fencing, and other items can conduct electricity from downed lines, making them potentially deadly for those who come in contact with them.
If you see a downed line, contact the BCELP dispatch at 989-894-8350 to report it.
As the cleanup continues, Bay City residents with tree debris from the storm will be able to participate in two special collection days.
The city of Bay City announced that it will be picking up tree debris on Wednesday, June 22, and Thursday, June 23. The city will only be picking up debris that is up to 10 inches in diameter.
Meanwhile, residents who have building debris to deal with due to the storm can schedule an appointment at the Bay City Transfer Station online at: https://www.baycitymi.org/697/Drop-Off-Services.
Read more from MLive:
Sending in the cavalry: Mutual aid arrives in Bay City to help restore power after severe storm
Have storm damage? Bay City offering two dates for tree debris pickup
Bay City crews working on widespread power outputs after severe thunderstorm
See how a quick but powerful thunderstorm impacted Bay County
Severe storm causes power outages, wind damage in Bay City area