Jackson residents face challenges, cold temps after ice storm, power outages

Many residents are forced to make do without heat or electricity in the frigid temperatures
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 6:42 PM EST
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JACKSON, Mich. (WILX) - Hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents are still without power after Wednesday’s ice storm caused significant damage to power lines and trees throughout the state.

According to Consumers Energy, about 250,000 of its customers lost power due to the storm, with about one-third of them having their power restored as of this Friday evening.

Background: Safety concerns remain as Jackson residents clean up after storm

With the wind dying down, there have been more crews out and about restoring power and clearing fallen trees. The City of Jackson’s goal is to have the sidewalks and streets cleared up in the next few days. However, city officials said that the overall clean-up process could take weeks.

Most people and businesses are dealing with some kind of wire issue, whether it’s with their internet, power or cable. A few businesses have had to close due to power outages, but some have seen an influx of customers looking for a warm spot to plug in their devices.

“We’re trying to stay open, make sure everybody’s got a warm spot to come in to, warm up, grab a cup of coffee, hot chocolate,” said Brandy Neelis, Cooper St. Biggby Owner in Jackson. “We’re just working around the clock to try and make sure, moving supplies. There are a few locations unfortunately that don’t have power and that can’t open but we got lucky here, so we’re open and serving the customers.”

The City of Jackson has opened the Martin Luther King Jr. Center as a warming center, but it’s only available during business hours. The St. Johns United Church of Christ in Jackson has opened its doors as a warming center as well.

Clean-up is well underway with lots of progress made so far. For many, the biggest concern right now is not having heat in these cold temperatures.

Related: Lansing initiates Cold Weather Emergency Plan as thousands remain without power

With a small generator, George Ellis and his wife have to make hard decisions about what gets powered up. When asked how they were doing, they had a one-word answer: cold.

“We’re still without heat,” Ellis said.

Forced to cook on the grill outside, the couple said they’re dealing with the outage just like everyone else.

“We are keeping our refrigerator going, and you know we’ve got a (space) heater in there,” said Ellis.

Power lines are not the only concern, with some fallen trees causing thousands of dollars worth of damage. Brandon Kush was home when a large tree fell onto his roof.

“It felt like an earthquake, the first one, and the second one you could start to hear the cracking of the limbs and once it fell, it was another big boom, that’s for sure,” said Kush.

The fallen tree damaged their gutter and roofing. The family still has downed power lines in their backyard.

“We only lost power for about five seconds, and it rebooted back up. But we lost our internet, couple of lines down,” said Kush.

As everyone works together to pick up the pieces, those who live in Jackson know this is a widespread issue.

“We’re just doing what everyone else is doing,” said Ellis.

Remember; If you see or suspect a downed power line, stay at least 25 feet away and keep children and pets away. If you see a downed power line, call 911 before contacting Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050, the Lansing Board of Water and Light at 877-295-5001 or DTE Energy at 800-947-5000.

Always assume a wire is dangerous, even if it’s lying still.

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