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Posted on Sat, Jul 24, 2010 : 4:33 p.m.

Thousands of Washtenaw County residents cope with power outages

By Heather Lockwood


A large tree fell down during the thunderstorm Friday evening, hitting a utility pole and stripping the wires from it.

Angela J. Cesere |

Greg Border's house in Saline is one of about 12,000 households and businesses in Washtenaw County still without power after Friday's storms.

Borders arrived home Friday evening to a fallen tree, which he estimates was about 150 feet tall, and downed power lines in front of his house on Maple Road.

"It was a very tall, healthy maple tree," Borders said. "It snapped off right there at the root."

Borders said he doesn't know when power will be restored to his house, and safety is the main concern at this point. "They've got caution tape strung up all over the place," he added.


This tree was a casualty of Friday's storms.

Angela J. Cesere |

"I'm hoping the crew will show up and start working on (restoring power), but rumor has it that there's more storms coming through," Borders said. "We can only keep our fingers crossed."

While crews hope to restore power to the majority of the customers by tonight, that could be impacted by the weather forecast, said Eileen Dixon, a spokeswoman for DTE. 

In total, 80,000 customers in DTE's coverage area lost power Friday evening, with the majority in Washtenaw, Monroe and western Wayne counties, Dixon said. She added those customers who don't have power restored to them by tonight will have power by Sunday or, at the latest, Monday.

Bill Deedler, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said Washtenaw County may see "strong to severe storms" through tonight, but he expects the weather to "calm down" Sunday and remain calm through Tuesday.

Saline Assistant Fire Chief Charles Schaible said Maple Road remains closed between US-12 and Clark Street due to the fallen tree and downed wires. Schaible said his department responded to about 24 calls of "wires down, or arching wires, or trees in the road," from about 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday.

Schaible added an apartment located above some businesses on East Michigan Avenue sustained roof damage when a portion of the building's flat, rubber roof "lifted" and "rolled" up. No one was injured, and no residents were displaced due to the damage, Schaible said.

Heather Lockwood is a reporter for Reach her at or 734-623-2536. You can also follow her on Twitter.



Tue, Jul 27, 2010 : 8:28 p.m.

@another cathy, Your neighborhood may have underground wiring but the lines leading to your development are all above ground. That is why you lost power for 23 hours.

another kathy

Mon, Jul 26, 2010 : 2:18 p.m.

Our entire neighborhood, built in 1996-1998, has underground wiring. Never the less, we were without power for about 23 hours from Friday evening until Saturday evening. Thankfully, we have public water and a gas water heater. A trip to purchase dry ice for our refrigerator and freezer plus a bag of regular ice for a cooler for Saturday's food kept our food stuffs safe. We're very grateful power was not out longer.


Mon, Jul 26, 2010 : 1:49 p.m.

The blame lays with the Public Utility Commission. They can approve rate changes to cover the costs of upgrading the system from grid to meter. The problem is they don't have the stones to it because that will require a rate hike. Many posters are off base when ranting about "inefficient free markets" and "for profit". Michigan is already a deregulated state for electricity but that has no impact on the "transmission" infrastructure. Companies like DTE are already quasi public since all rate hikes have to be approved by the PUC. Hence, there is no free market. As far as profitability we now know why widowed old ladies own the stock of utilities.....low returns but stable.


Sun, Jul 25, 2010 : 3:08 p.m.

"Go buy a whole house generator." Fine, if you don't live in a condo where these aren't possible. (Or if you rent). Condos and rentals are a big part of Ann Arbor's housing, something desired to avoid urban sprawl. We need DTE to think longer term and build a grid that is stable, and especially one that does not fail when software somewhere in Ohio fails as it did when we had that huge blackout that lasted for so long. Before public utilities became profit-making entities we had a much better system, a more stable one. Perhaps that was the case in 1968-72. I've decided not to stock my freezer so full in the future, since we seem to have so many outages with the fragile system that now exists. Of course, it costs too much to really fix it. Costs too much when the utility company is for-profit, that is.


Sun, Jul 25, 2010 : 2 p.m.

@scooter dog, "just go out and buy a whole house generator" yeah, right. they run around 15 grand to run the entire house. I will stick with my 10 horse 5000 wat generator. Keeps the two fridges cold, can run the sump pump and a couple TV's. Underground electrical wiring is far more reliable. As I said, lived in a house from 1968 through end of 1972 and we never lost power one time in Utah. Why is it so bad here? As for animals chewing on wires underground, that is hogwash. You ever seen what the proctective coating on underground wires looks like? There is not an animal alive that can chew through that stuff. Lame excuse given by DTE to mkm17


Sun, Jul 25, 2010 : 1:20 p.m.

I want to thank DTE for restoring our power. There is nothing like a power outage to showcase how dependent we are on power. We were out for 30 hours and we are very happy to be "live" again. I was about Saline a few times yesterday and saw many DTE trucks working hard to recover from the storm. Thank you.


Sun, Jul 25, 2010 : 11:39 a.m.

Our power went out Friday night at 6:30 and DTE said it would be back on Saturday between 9:30 and 11:30 PM. On the way home that night I called for an update and they said power was restored. Thrilled, I headed home, only to discover it was still out! I re-reported the outage, and now they say we won't have power until 9;30 to 11:30 TOMORROW (Monday) night. Thanks a lot DTE!!! Accuracy in your automated systems would be helpful! If we can't talk to a real person, an accurate automatic system would be a big step up. And by the way, 150 ft??? in Saline??? That would be twice the height of the tallest building in town. Maybe the reporter added a "1" at the beginning of the number?


Sun, Jul 25, 2010 : 10:24 a.m.

My understanding is that buried electrical service does not mean fewer outages than overhead service. DTE has explained that construction equipment and animals chewing on wires are responsible for just as many outages to underground service, as weather and other causes are to overhead service.


Sun, Jul 25, 2010 : 10 a.m.

We lost power Friday at 7 PM, and now, Sunday at 11 AM, we're still out. DTE estimated it would be back last night, now they're saying tonight. It's frustrating, but we are lucky to have a friend's generator saving our literal bacon. Sleeping was rough, but otherwise we're coping. I'm typing on my laptop at McDonald's... thank goodness for gasoline and free WiFi. All the best to everyone else in the same boat!

scooter dog

Sun, Jul 25, 2010 : 9:04 a.m.

Quit complaining and go out and buy a whole house standby generator and have it installed buy someone that knows what they are doing and the next time the power goes out it comes on automatically and wa la,no more lost $1500.00 freezer full of meat. While they are a tad expensive,its chump change to loseing TWO/2 freezers full of meat. If your waiting for DTE to solve your problems with downed power lines you'll be in your grave before they get around to solving your problems.


Sun, Jul 25, 2010 : 7:23 a.m.

I assume the DTE crews do work diligently. The problem is that they are repairing older equipment that is above ground, often strung between poles like in the late 1800s. Fix it once and the next storm wrecks it again. It's like painting your car with watercolor paint.


Sun, Jul 25, 2010 : 7:12 a.m.

I am amazed how many folks lose power in the Detroit area every time we have a storm. I lost power for 8 hours on saturday when the sun was shining and there was no storm? I also lost my home phone line ( so no internet ) for two days. I grew up in Utah back in the late sixties/early seventies and our entire community had power lines under ground. We never ever lost power. Why is it 40 years later we still have all power lines above ground here in Michigan?


Sun, Jul 25, 2010 : 5:20 a.m.

John, I'm not sure I understand knowing why the power went out in the middle of a storm is of value, but I don't tend to get bogged down with that. I'm glad to read that you were only without power for 14 hours. Ours was out for 27, and yes, we are on a well too -- but that's something we plan for. (If you fill your tub/s with water at the threat of bad storms you'll have plenty of water for washing/flushing.) Generators can also run the water pump for a short time. When we called DTE we expected a 10-12 hour outage. But what has to be considered is that when the storms pass us, others are affected too. It's just not a reliable, quick-fix in situations like this. As the number of "needs" escalates, the time for repair does too. We are so used to being catered to we are not willing to accept inconvenience even for a day. I live in the very north area of the Saline school district, Ann Arbor address. My mom is in Saline and I drove down there yesterday. (She never lost power) The destruction there is going to take a few weeks to clean up. I'm glad we had power restored when we did. DTE crews worked diligently, but with 80,000 people without power it's not possible to know the details of everyone's outage or restoration time frame.


Sun, Jul 25, 2010 : 1:26 a.m.

It took about 14 hours to restore power for our household, which was challenging because with a well water system we also had no water for that time period. A little more detail from DTE with respect to expected time frame to get us up and running would have been appreciated. It would also be nice to eventually understand what specifically took the power down for so long, just a bunch of trees?


Sat, Jul 24, 2010 : 10:22 p.m.

Why are there power failures over such large areas (large sections of Wayne & Washtenaw). Is it simultaneous trees dropping on power lines. A couple of large stations having their roofs blown off? Why isn't this stuff underground where wind, rain & snow won't reach it? I'd like to see DTE explain exactly what went wrong as opposed to telling us how many of us are without power and guessing how long before things are fixed.

Rod Johnson

Sat, Jul 24, 2010 : 9:50 p.m.

150 feet is a damn tall tree. I'm not saying it's impossible, the tallest tree in Michigan is 157 feet, according to the Native Tree Society.