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Ann Arbor area recovering from ice storm: "The entire city just got clobbered"

Ice storm collage by Marilyn Gouin

The ice storm that hit Washtenaw County triggered what the Ann Arbor Fire Department is calling its most calls in a single shift in history.

Thousands of Ann Arbor residents are without power after the ice storm wreaked havoc on the city. Downed power lines and trees were scattered throughout the area.

Ann Arbor Fire Chief Mike Kennedy describes the storm as a “winter hurricane”.

“Usually with a summer storm, it goes through, some parts of town might have got hit worse than others. This was the entire city just got clobbered. And with the temperatures not really rising, we’re just getting call after call.”

The Fire Department has received well over 300 calls over the last 24 hours. But many are multiple calls for a single incident, which is creating challenges for responders. The chief’s advice is if you see a downed power line, treat it as live and stay away. If there’s caution tape on it, there’s no need to call 911.

Also, residents without heat are asked not to bring generators inside or near your house. And running a consistent drip in your faucets can prevent pipes from bursting.

Nearly half of Washtenaw County was hit by some power interruption.

Benjamin Pinette, Emergency Operations Manager for the County, says nearly 45% of the county is still without power as of Thursday afternoon. That’s 730,000 DTE customers and 4,000 Consumers Energy customers. And while some are being taken care of, he says, more are coming in.

“Crews are out there in full force. They're taking care of the outages as best they can. But more keep coming in because we haven’t warmed up enough yet to melt off the ice and get us going in the right direction.”

Pinette says while the temperatures are starting to warm up this afternoon the overnight low is expected to be below 20 degrees which means more freezing conditions.

He says he has been in touch with the utilities who say it will be multiple days - perhaps through the weekend before everything is resolved.

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Josh Hakala is the general assignment reporter for the WEMU news department.
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