2017-12-07 / Front Page

Big winds wreaking havoc

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

Donna Hillard feels like she lives in the Bermuda Triangle.

But instead of disappearing herself, it’s electrical service that’s been going “poof!”

It’s been gone for days at a time.

Wind gusts ranging from 29-58 mph were recorded throughout the county Tuesday, leaving more than 2,000 homes and businesses without power.

“This is the fifth time we’ve been out since Nov. 1,” said Hillard, who lives on Co. Rd. 616 in Burdickville.

From 3 a.m. Tuesday through 2 p.m., crews from the county Road Commission and fire departments responded to more than 40 reported “road hazards” and reports of electrical lines down.

And as of press time yesterday, Hillard and her neighbors — including Glen Lake Community School, located just over the hill — was at 30 hours without power and looking at the prospect of 12 more hours without juice.

After the storm of August 2015, Donna and husband Kim purchased a generator which provided “conveniences” like water this week.

There is no generator at Glen Lake School, which was closed Tuesday and Wednesday as a result of the outage. The wind also forced cancellation prep basketball games and practices.

“We had lights both days, but no power to our well and half of the heating system wasn’t working,” Glen Lake superintendent Sander Scott said. “With no water, there’s no school.”

Marcus Mead, Glen Lake’s director of administrative and instructional technology, posted a video on Facebook demonstrating “brown-out” conditions that resulted in lights flickering like disco balls in the media center.

Because the K-12 school facilities have been added to and changed over the years, not all of the school complex is served by the same electrical service.

The outage also complicated the school calendar. Tuesday’s scheduled elementary holiday program was canceled and rescheduled for Tuesday next week.

No power meant the Lakers’ much anticipated home-opening boys basketball game Tuesday against Traverse City St. Francis was canceled. As of press time, no new date had been scheduled for the game.

Likewise, school officials were scrambling yesterday afternoon to find an alternate location for the Glen Lake girls basketball game, which was slated for last night in Maple City.

School officials have been exploring the purchase of a generator to supply power when electric service is out.

Initial cost estimates are between $500,000 and $600,000.

The pricetag could be offset by the cost of closing school for “Act of God” day.

“Our instructional staff and teachers aides are paid when they’re not here,“ Scott said, with the bill to the district running about $30,000 a day.

Glen Lake is served by Consumer’s Energy, which reportedly had 600 county customers without power beginning early Tuesday morning.

Consumer’s spokesman Debra Dodd estimated the utility would have power restored to the impacted area by 11:30 last night.

Some 1,472 Cherryland Electric members experienced outages from one to seven hours in length beginning Tuesday morning.

“Our longest outage from noon to 4 p.m. was in the Timberlee area,” said Frank Siepker, Jr., a Maple City resident and engineer and operations manager for Cherryland Electric Cooperative.

Homes throughout the county served by CenturyLink were without internet services for about seven hours Tuesday due to damage fiber the company leases from a third party.

Wind gusts recorded by the National Weather Service ranged from 29 mph in Leland to 58 mph at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula.

A few miles south along the shoreline the wind whipped up waves on Lake Michigan and took out pilings along the guardrail at Christmas Cove beach.

Leelanau Township supervisor Doug Scripps confirmed yesterday that facilities manager Ben Purdy had barricaded the road leading to the parking area leading to the beach.

“It was the kind of day when you’re car door would either slam on your legs or be torn off at its hinges,” Scripps said.

High winds continued into yesterday, when snow began to fall blanketing the ground in white.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory from 4 p.m. yesterday to 4 p.m. today.

Lake effect snow, between 2 for 4 inches, was expected to fall.

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