Storm Power Restoration Could Take Days

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Approximately 62,000 customers in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties are without power Sunday night, after an icy winter storm that downed trees and power lines.

The Board of Water and Light says 21,000 Lansing customers are without power. Consumers Energy has about 41,000 in the dark.

"Mother Nature came through the city of Lansing earlier today with fury," said BWL General Manager Peter Lark. "The ice storm is, by our standards, the worst that anyone can remember at the BWL."

A full crew tended to more than 200 downed lines across Lansing. BWL is using workers from neighboring municipalities to help make the rounds.

Power restoration will not begin until power lines are cleaned up and BWL says its crews will be working around the clock to make that happen.

"With additional winds and continued cold weather, it's very difficult to tell you when power will be on," Lark said. "We would prefer at BWL to do what we usually do which is under-promise and over-deliver. I can only tell you that we will be working 24/7 until this project is completed, until every last customer is online."

Lark did not provide a target time for restoration, but said he expects his workers to begin restoration efforts Monday afternoon.

Mayor Virg Bernero said he wouldn't put his money on having power to cook Christmas dinner.

"Mother nature it appears, is a scrooge," he said. "This storm really couldn't come at a worse time. "It appears they won't be melting anytime soon. You can be sure that the city and our friends at the Board of Water and Light will continue to do everything in our power to get things back to normal as quickly as possible."

Many Lansing residents spent their mornings clearing downed trees and surveying the damage.

"It looks like a war zone," said Lansing resident Andy Rozell. "All you hear is limbs snapping and the ice coming down, so every crunch and snap and pop you hear you're looking up."

A loud crunch woke Lavonne McDevitt at 6 a.m. Sunday morning. She found her 38-year-old maple tree downed in her backyard, narrowly missing her house. Fallen power lines touch her car, leaving her powerless and stranded at home.

Many of those without power are checking into local hotels. The Radisson Hotel on Grand Ave. saw its occupancy double within a couple hours Sunday morning.

"With the weather we've seen a lot of folks calling looking for guest rooms without having power for the holidays," said General Manager Bryan Johnson. "People are just trying to take care of their families and stay warm and hopefully their power will be back on before we know it."

Dallas resident Steve Schneider said the Radisson was the best option for his 89-year-old parents who had lost power.

"They would not be able to withstand the the cold temperatures of the night," he said.

Temperatures are expected to dip and the city says it will keep salting the roads, prioritizing major streets.

"We will be waiting to go back into the neighborhoods because our presence there may cause branches to fall down," said Chad Gamble, the city's director of public service, adding Monday's trash pickup had been pushed back a day. "We want to make sure we don't make matters worse for our friends at the Board of Water and Light "

Mayor Bernero says the city will deploy all resources necessary to defeat a storm he called "unique" and "relentless."

But as a reminder, Bernero says not to drive when it isn't necessary and not to park cars on the streets for 48 hours.

The city has set up a warming shelter at Trinity Church on Dunkel Rd. for those without power, but Bernero says those only provide the most basic amenities.

"I encourage people to go if you have family members who have power to move out for a couple of days and be part of the family," he said.

A portion of Pennsylvania Ave. near the Potter Park Zoo remains closed after a viaduct flooded. Chad Gamble says it is the only occurrence of flooding in the city, though he says rivers will still be monitored.

No deaths or major injuries have been reported.

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