Majority of storm damage consists of downed lines, fallen trees
ARENAC COUNTY — Cleanup was underway Nov. 18, as downed power lines, uprooted trees and large limbs were scattered across the county following high winds and thunderstorms Sunday, Nov. 17.
From about 5-7:30 p.m. on Nov. 17, Arenac County 911 received 28 natural disaster reports, which 911 director Chris Barbb said includes downed lines and fallen trees. Most of the reported incidents were downed power lines, many of which were down due to contact from trees or limbs, according to Barbb.
“A couple of them were trees that were down in the roadways, but most of them were down power lines,” he said.
During the storm, the traffic light at the intersection of M-65 and Huron Road went out due a power outage in that area. A report was made to central dispatch around 5:10 p.m. regarding the light being out.
Brian Leja, chief of the Omer-Arenac Fire Department, said firefighters were directing traffic at the intersection late at night Nov. 17 and during busy morning hours Nov. 18.
“We cleared at about 12:30 a.m. this morning, and then for the drive time we went back out there around 6 a.m. until 8 a.m.,” he told the Independent Nov. 18.
He said he is working to get in touch with emergency management officials to see if there is more the fire department should do in regards to the light not working.
Barbb said the Michigan Department of Transportation has control over the traffic light. He said drivers should be cautious whenever a traffic light is out.
“Hopefully folks treat it as a four-way stop,” he said.
Leja, whose department is stationed in the middle of an outage that affected more than 700 Consumers Energy customers, said it was a tough night for the firemen around Omer.
“It wasn’t a fun night — a lot of rain, a lot of wind and a lot of trees,” he said.
“We had numerous trees across roads. We had power lines down, trees on power lines,” Leja said. “We had people trapped in between trees out by the flats in the Omer plains.”
Sterling Area Fire Department Chief Scott Adams said his department was also busy. He said the common issues they faced were trees and branches hitting power lines.
Trees were down throughout the Sterling village limits. One large tree fell across M-76 and forced firemen to shut down the road, Adams said.
“We had to close the road down for a little while right in town,” he said.
Adams said Grove Road south of Standish-Sterling Central High School was also closed due to the limbs and power lines falling nearby.
Mitch Oliver, chief of the Standish Area Fire Authority, said there were only about four pages to the SAFA, but there were significant issues that had to be dealt with during the storm.
“One was a roof blown off a trailer house,” he said. “That did damage to a primary power line.”
That incident occurred on Senske Road in Standish Township. In Lincoln Township, where many are without power west of I-75 and south of Sterling, a downed power line forced a lengthy road closure, Oliver said.
“We had a set of primary power lines down across Seven Mile,” he said. “We had Seven Mile closed for four or five hours at Johnsfield.”
Oliver said many drivers did not make a wise choice in dealing with the downed power lines on Seven Mile.
“(The power lines) were lying on the ground. People were driving over them and when Consumers got there, they were still hot,” he said.
Barbb said there have been no reports of personal injuries due to the stormy weather Sunday.