17,000 still without power in Washtenaw County after winter storm blasts area
Courtesy of Jennifer Wilmarth
DTE spokesman Alejandro Bodipo-Memba said 90 percent of DTE customers in the county will have power by midnight or in the early morning hours. However, he couldn’t completely deny reports of some customers not being able to get their power back on until Friday.
“We expect to get to 90 percent by midnight tonight or the wee early morning hours of tomorrow,” he said. “Certainly, those stragglers dragging into tomorrow, we’ll get those back as quickly as possible.”
Nikki Powley, an Ypsilanti resident, said power at her home went out at 10 p.m. Tuesday. After contacting DTE, she was told by an automated system power wouldn’t be restored until between midnight and 5 a.m. Friday.
“We don’t know what we’re going to do for the next two days,” she said. “We don’t have family in the area or the finances to cover a hotel room for two nights.”
Powley wasn’t the only area resident who had to figure out a contingency plan after losing power.
Garry Layman, facilities director at Glacier Hills Senior Living, said many residents at the facility’s independent living condominiums left after losing power Wednesday.
“Many of them have gone to motels, some to the main building, some have decided to stay a while longer,” he said. “My guess is they all will leave eventually if they don’t get power.”
Layman said the assisted living facility and the main building at Glacier Hills never lost power, but there’s no back-up generator for the Villas, or condos. He said the residents at the Villas were being assisted in finding places to stay.
The power outages were caused by heavy snow bringing down tree branches onto power lines across the southeast Michigan area, with most of the afflicted homes in Washtenaw County. Ann Arbor city officials announced a plan Wednesday to help deal with the amount of tree limbs down across the city.
Other area residents who lost power decided to stick it out at home, despite the lack of heat.
The power went out at Jennifer Wilmarth’s Pittsfield Township home at 5 a.m. Wednesday after flickering at approximately 3:15 a.m. She said she and her husband turned on the gas fireplace in their home after the power flickered and have had it running since.
For the most part, the day was spent underneath blankets and near the fireplace trying to keep warm. Wilmarth said her kids, Sam and Katy, were starting to get a little stir crazy by 4 p.m. Wednesday.
“They’re talking in Beaker voices to each other,” she said, referring to the Muppets’ character with a high-pitched squeal.
Wilmarth said her husband managed to work from home until his back-up laptop battery died and he drove to a relative’s house to work for the rest of the day. The family was going to go out to dinner and walk around Target to enjoy some warmth. She said their power was expected back on later Wednesday night.
The storm dumped a total of seven inches on southeast Ann Arbor, according to the National Weather Service. Other parts of the city saw four-and-a-half inches of snowfall.
Five inches of snow fell in Chelsea, four inches in Manchester and between 3.6 and four inches in Saline, according to the NWS.
NWS meteorologists said less than an inch of new snow is expected to fall Wednesday during a storm that rolled in at 5 p.m. Thursday is expected to be cloudy with lingering snow showers. Temperatures will be in the mid-30s.
All of that means Ann Arbor Public Schools likely will be back in session Thursday.
Spokeswoman Liz Margolis said Scarlett Middle School and Mitchell Elementary were the only schools expected to be without power until late Wednesday night. King Elementary School and Ann Arbor Technical High School were expected to have their power restored Wednesday afternoon.
“That’s our plan,” Margolis said when asked if school would be going ahead on Thursday.