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Residents get power restored after five days in the dark

Posted at 3:44 PM, Jun 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-15 19:03:09-04

EMMETT TOWNSHIP, Mich. — For some residents of Emmett Township, east of Battle Creek, last Wednesday's severe storms marked the start of five full days in the dark.

"I'm 81 years old, I'll be 82 this year," said resident Marjorie Jackson, who moved in 2001, "I need to be able to get around without stumbling over everything in the dark, I'm just fed up."

And for resident John O'Neall, electricity is much more than a luxury as he continues his fight with terminal cancer.

"It's very frustrating," O'Neall said, "especially with my breathing treatments a couple of times a day."

O'Neall had to buy an adapter for his machine so that he can take breathing treatments in the car while the power is out.

He and his family cannot afford a generator and say they have since thrown out more than 800 dollars in food.

"We lost a lot of food," said his wife, Nicole, "we just filled a 90 gallon trash can with all of our food, we're trying to feed our kids and going out to eat every day."

On Monday morning, in the middle of the subdivision, a wire sat about eight feet above the street. After not seeing crews for days, residents put out their own 'low wire' sign to warn larger vehicles.

"It's a pretty dangerous situation," added resident Randy Joostberns, who has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years. "They never came out to do anything about the wire hanging down in the road, we had a neighbor come out and put the sign out."

Many were left feeling even more frustrated after calls with Consumers Energy, saying they weren't given much of a timetable for restoration.

"It's very frustrating, I called seven or eight times," Joostberns added, "I asked for supervisors to call me back and one said they're sending extra crews here from the Saginaw and Bay City area."

The good news is that crews did arrive in the Harbor Creek neighborhood at around Noon on Monday, restoring power just about an hour later.

"This week it's supposed to start getting hotter and it's going to be harder for him to breathe," Nicole O'Neill said in reference to her husband, "we'd like to get the air conditioning going again."

Consumers Energy did issue FOX 17 a statement regarding the situation, saying:

"The damage in Battle Creek and Bronson was severe, with winds reported up to 80 mph. There have been hundreds of downed wires and broken poles in Calhoun and Branch counties. We had an electrical substation east of Battle Creek take a direct lightning strike, causing considerable damage. We appreciate our customers’ patience during this challenging time of responding to an historic level of damage."