Montcalm County offices still recovering from summer lightning strikes

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 11:31 am on Monday, October 01, 2012

STANTON — A flash of light in the sky can cause significant damage on the ground.

Montcalm County officials found out exactly how much damage when a tower near the sheriff’s office was struck this past summer.

Montcalm County submitted a total of $166,542.46 in damages to its insurance company, Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority, according to Controller-Administrator Chris Hyzer.

The lightning strike took place on a Monday morning, June 18, in Stanton.

The Central Dispatch office, which fields 911 calls, was affected by the lightning strike more than most county offices. Part of the county’s network went down, resulting in emergency dispatchers needing to revert to documenting incidents by hand on paper. This system lasted for almost three days, according to Central Dispatch Director Timothy Scott.

Four of the computers which operate Central Dispatch’s automatic number identification (ANI) and automatic location identification (ALI), were damaged. Ironically, the computers had just been repaired a few weeks before.

“We were still able to take calls, but we were not receiving this critical information,” Scott said.

Central Dispatch’s recorder was also damaged. The recorder records all radio and telephone traffic in the center. Calls were still being recorded, but without phone numbers, types of calls and more details. In another ironic turn of events, the new recorder had just been installed a month prior.

Finally, the monitor used to view the four closed circuit cameras was damaged and completely unusable.

Four months later, “everything is back up and working,” Scott reports.

The Emergency Medical Services Department also sustained damages from the lightning strike, including two desktop computers and a security system card reader, all of which were replaced within a week, according to Director Dave Feldpausch.

The network cable to the EMS office was also damaged, which took six to eight weeks to replace. The emergency alert notification system (EMnet) was also damaged and is still only partially operational today.

“The primary impact was minimized by sharing of resources and ingenuity while waiting for preeminent repairs to occur,” Feldpausch said. “While it has been an inconvenience, we have maintained all of our services to the public.”

Lightning damage tally

Lightning strike damages sustained by Montcalm County offices include: recording counsels for 911, $28,397.44; cameras for access control system and labor, $24,984.90; cameras for access control system and labor, $19,114.20; replacement of five damaged DVRs, $10,750; server, $9,150; three network switches, $8,400; replace seven damaged computers, $8,315.02; air-conditioning unit repairs, $6,426.15; KVM audio/video switch, $4,345.95; analog phone cards, $2,703.30; sewage grinder pump, $2,470.51; labor for network issues for bad switch, $1,000; Otoscope, $925; Condenser for unit, $836.30; Telephony card for server, $830; Labor for switch replacement, $625; television for camera system, $548; replaced four phones, $517.88; door card reader, $495; damaged printer, $161.77; replaced one phone, $151.97; watt/mixer amplifier, $151.75; cabling, $99.89; cabling, $76.15; cable adapter, $12.28. Total: $166,542.46

Source: Montcalm County Controller-Administrator’s Office

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