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Gov. Whitmer declares state of emergency in Ingham, Eaton and Livingston counties

A downed power line across a road in Webberville. Caution tape is wrapped around the line and three cones on the ground are placed on the road near it.
Michelle Jokisch Polo
Thursday storms caused hundreds of thousands of residents across Michigan to lose power.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has expanded a state of emergency tied to recent severe weather to include Eaton, Ingham and Livingston counties, as well as the city of South Lyon in Oakland County.

That's after powerful storms and seven tornadoes hit communities across Michigan Thursday.

The expansion announced Monday adds to the state of emergency declared on August 25 for Monroe and Wayne counties following extensive flooding.

The declaration activates local emergency response plans and provides access to state resources to address the crisis.

Meanwhile, power outages continue to affect thousands of Michiganders following the Thursday storms. The severe weather resulted in significant damage to buildings, trees, power lines, and wires.

Tracy Wimmer, a spokesperson for Consumers Energy, says some of the hardest-hit areas are in Ingham, Eaton, Livingston and Kent counties.

"Those areas were the ones where we were seeing the most significant damage and the most complex restoration processes for individual places because a lot of the outages were caused by fallen limbs or broken poles," she said.

Power restoration, according to Wimmer, includes a damage assessment team that determines what is needed to restore power to an area.

"After the damage assessment team has completed their review, the forestry team comes out to perform the actual debris cleaning, and then we can send in the linemen," she said.

The number of fallen limbs and uprooted trees that needed clearing impacted the time required before addressing the power lines.

"There's a big difference between a line being down and a pole being broken, for example, which we did see a pretty significant number of, not only wire downs but also broken poles this time around, and that largely had to do with the high winds or with trees that were knocked over, hitting a pole and things like that," Wimmer said.

More than 200,000 homes and businesses that use Consumers Energy were impacted by outages immediately following the storm.

A record number of crews, including those from six other states, arrived Friday afternoon and have been working around the clock to restore power. As of Tuesday morning, there were still about 5,000 Consumers Energy customers without power.

Dick Peffley is the general manager at the Lansing Board of Water and Light. He says more than 30% of BWL's total number of customers lost power on Thursday.

"This is the single biggest storm in Board of Water and Light history, and we have over 90 crews out there right now from all over the country helping us restore."

Peffley estimates the total cost of repairs for the utlity to be in the millions of dollars.

"We have over 200 workers out in the field right now, maybe even closer to 300, depending on what time of day it is. That's all labor that we typically don't pay for, and it's at a premium rate because workers have traveled here from other states and brought their vehicles," he said.

About 2,700 Lansing Board of Water and Light customers are still without power, as of Tuesday morning.

Peffley hopes to have electricity restored to all customers by Wednesday.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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