August 22, 2017

Severe weather causes damage in county

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Watch as lightning strikes a power line pole right outside of Pamida in Standish. Arenac County Independent Staff Writer Kevin Drescher reports.
Kevin Drescher
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ARENAC COUNTY — Severe weather rolled through Arenac County Thursday afternoon causing power outages and knocking down trees in the area.

The storm, which rolled in around 3-4 p.m., had wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour and heavy rains.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Scott Rozanski said that the storm was typical of summer weather.

“What we were seeing yesterday was a fairly typical summer pattern, and we had a weak frontal boundary come from Canada. We had a lot of heavy rain reports,” said the Gaylord based forecaster. “It was really focused down there. We haven’t seen a lot of that activity in a couple of years.”

According to Rozanski, AuGres had one of the biggest rain reports in the area.

“The AuGres area really came in with the higher reports.” He said the area received about four inches of rain in four hours. “It’s quite a bit. It would be like 10 inches of snow an hour.”

Sterling was one of the areas that dealt with the high winds, as trees fell inside of the Sterling Cemetery, while power poles were left leaning onto the covered gas pump area at Forward Shell gas station at the intersection of State and Saginaw streets.

“I was here all by myself. When the poles went down we were (scared),” said Forward Sterling attendant Michele Johnroe about being afraid of a fire hazard at the station with customers. “It was like a tornado came through.”

Station manager Kim Koin said that she hoped to see the power poles replaced as soon as Friday evening.

“We were down for about five hours. They came about 8:30 and anchored them,” she said about the poles. “They’re supposed to come and replace the poles.”

After walking the cemetery, Deep River Township Clerk Karlia Kroczaleski-Raymond said that there was quite a bit of damage.

“There are at least three trees. Some of them have even brought up that cement edge,” she said about cement grave site plat boundaries that are dug into the ground. “It’s sad. After a little while it gets to you.”

Though the toppled trees were clearly evident, Raymond said that she’s not sure how many damaged headstones there are.

“Some of them are buried, so it’s hard to tell,” she said. There’s a lot of them that are buried under trees.”

With all of the damage that was done, the clerk wasn’t sure about how long it will take to get things cleaned back up.

“People are coming out (and) things are improving,” she said. “A lot of that depends on insurance.”

Though this storm has passed, Rozanski said that this might be an active summer and that it doesn’t take much to blow down trees like some of the ones at the Cementery.

“Pine Tree roots are pretty shallow, and a good 45-50 mph wind will do that.It will just be more typical, (but) it could be an active summer,” he said about the weather. “Last year we had 15 days in the 80s. So far in June and July this year we’ve exceeded that.”

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