Strong winds leave thousands in the dark - Toledo News Now, News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Strong winds leave thousands in the dark

MID-MICHIGAN (WNEM) -

Strong winds blasted Mid-Michigan causing major damage to the power grid Tuesday. 

>>Hour-by-hour: Temps to bottom out<<

Employees at a Houghton Lake gas station blame the gusts for knocking over a fuel pump. It happened at the Quik Mart near 127 and M-55.

The winds also knocked out power for several businesses along M-55.

"We're just kind of waiting around doing nothing now," said Victoria Billcheck, employee at Burger King. "You would hear a lot of beeping and customers always in and out. We constantly have regulars. I mean, people have been driving around the building constantly today, but we can't do anything about not having power."

You can't get gas without power either. Dondi Sibbald learned that lesson the hard way.

"The closest place is about 20 miles away with gas. And I'm empty, empty," Sibbald said.

She thought about getting gas Monday night, but decided to wait until Tuesday. Luckily she had a friend with some fuel of his own. He came by to help her out.

"It's awesome. Otherwise it would be a really long day," Sibbald said.

The hospital in Houghton Lake remained open.

"When people need care we're the one place that's open," said Jim Raschke, CEO of Mid-Michigan Community Health Services.

The hospital has power thanks to a gas fire generator installed a few years ago.

"Seems to be when there's a high wind or storms Roscommon County has a tendency to lose its power. So having this generator is really important to us," Raschke said.

The generator provides power at all times to make sure patients get the care they need.

"Especially important for our X-ray, which is important for our urgent care. We have to have that open for urgent care to be open," Raschke said.

Raschke wants residents to know they will be cared for no matter what the weather.

"We're hoping that people realize that we're open and if they need the help they can come here and get it," Raschke said.

Crews have been hard at work tackling the power outages caused by the strong winds. Consumers Energy reported more than 100,000 homes and businesses affected overnight in in the Lower Peninsula.

Consumers said restoration efforts continue Tuesday afternoon with more than 1,200 employees and contract workers involved to safely restore power and help customers. As of 9:30 p.m.Tuesday, about 28,000 homes and businesses remained without power. 

Most customers who lost power live in Northern Michigan, according to a release. 

“We appreciate the patience of our customers as we work to restore power quickly and safely today,” said Guy Packard, Consumers Energy’s vice president of electric operations. “We encourage the public to be safe and watch for crews working along roads, especially with the possibility of wind gusts today that could cause more outages.”

The following are reported outages in Mid-Michigan:

  • Arenac County - 904
  • Bay County - 157
  • Clare County – 180
  • Genesee County - 150
  • Gladwin County - 696
  • Gratiot County - 8
  • Huron County - 673
  • Iosco County - 2,731
  • Isabella County - 94Midland County - 538
  • Ogemaw County – 1,369
  • Oscoda County - 1,627
  • Roscommon County - 1,488
  • Saginaw County - 4
  • Tuscola County - 62

>>Click here to see the outage map<<

Consumers Energy is reminding the public that safety is paramount while restoration work continues. Some safety tips include: 

  • Stay at least 25 feet away from downed power lines. Call 9-1-1 and Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050 to report downed wires.
  • Operating a generator may produce hazardous levels of carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless and deadly gas. Never use a generator in an attached garage, basement or near any air intakes, and never fuel a generator when it is running.
  • Be alert to crews working along roads and “slow down and go around.” Drivers should slow down or stop and wait for oncoming traffic to clear then safely pass workers on roadsides.
  • Customers can sign up to get outage alerts and restoration times sent to a phone, email or text message, Text ‘REG' to 232273 or visit: www.ConsumersEnergy.com/alerts. Customers can also report an outage, check the status of an outage and get useful tips what to do before, during and after a storm by visiting www.ConsumersEnergy.com/OutageCenter

Consumers Energy said it is working to restore power to all affected customers by 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The high winds are also causing downed trees and other damage throughout our area.

Bay County Central Dispatch said trees were reportedly down in the roadway on Garfield Road near Linwood Road in Beaver Township. Trees were also reportedly down on 7 Mile Road near Wetters Road in Kawkawlin Township. 

>>Slideshow: High winds cause damage in Mid-Michigan<<

In Midland County, the traffic light at M-20 and Coleman Road was out due to an outage in the area. Drivers were asked to use caution. 

Currie Parkway was also closed from Isabella to Main Street due to wires down. 

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