LAKEVIEW — A Saturday afternoon storm that left many residents in Montcalm County without power did the majority of its damage in the community of Lakeview.
According to Lakeview Village Manager James Freed, the damage he surveyed this morning in the community is beyond anything he has witnessed before.
“The damage out here is incredible,” he said. “I have not seen damage this extensive in my tenure here.”
According to Freed, a number of homes in the area have sustained damage from fallen trees that came down due to high winds, and several city streets remain closed as emergency crews work to clear debris from roadways.
“The cleanup will be immense,” he said. “We have a lot of damage to residential homes, trees that have fallen and landed right through the roofs.”
Freed said the National Weather Service currently has representatives in the area to determine if a tornado formed during the weekend storm.
At the Lakeview Griffith Field Airport, several airplanes were lifted into the air and carried a distance until they eventually came crashing to the ground.
According to Freed, four of the planes are considered “a total loss” and several airplane hangers also received damage.
“Those planes were on concrete tie downs and were then ripped from the ground and shredded,” he said. “Another 500 gallon tank was thrown into the air and tossed a quarter of a mile.”
Freed said city workers with the Department of Public Works are working “around the clock” to clear debris and repair damages from the storm.
Freed stressed, most importantly, residents need to keep their distance from downed power lines.
“Mixed in with this debris there are areas with downed live power lines,” he said. “People are asking why we still haven’t opened some roads and there are still trees down, it’s because we need to de-energize the lines before we can work safely. We ask that you please respect the police and fire lines, the caution tape, and stay away from these areas.”
Freed said the city is currently running its essential services, such as sewer and water, through generators, as the majority of the city deals with life without electricity.
Freed added that the city is likely looking at “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in damages throughout the community.
Freed said one positive to take away from the storm is that he has not heard of any storm-related injuries in the area that were reported.
“Miraculously, there were no injuries,” he said. “When you look around at the damage here in town, that’s pretty incredible.”
According to Montcalm County Emergency Services Director David Felpausch, he has not received any calls for assistance in relation to the weekend storm.
“There’s lots of power outages throughout the county, but that’s one of those things that’s come to be expected with storms like this,” he said. “We haven’t received any calls for service from Montcalm County Central Dispatch, but we will be doing an assessment this morning as we drive through the county.”
According to the Associated Press, about 178,000 Michigan residents were without electricity as a result of the storm and an estimated 54,000 remain without power as of this morning.
The National Weather Service reported roads flooded in Big Rapids and in Montcalm, Mason and Muskegon counties, and warned of more flooding with fresh rain this week.
According to Consumers Energy, crews have been working throughout Sunday evening and into this morning to restore power to residents.
More than 110,000 Michigan customers have been affected since the beginning of the storm Saturday evening. As of 4 a.m. about 38,000 customers remained without service.
Of the nine counties that Consumers Energy services, Montcalm County was the second-most affected by electric interruptions with 5,300 reported to have been without power.
“The weather overnight may not have been ideal, but at least it didn’t drive up outages,” said Mary Palkovich, Consumers Energy’s vice president of energy delivery. “Our crews were able to continue making good progress in getting the lights turned back on in our communities last night.”
A statement released by Consumers Energy states most residents’ power should be restored by late tonight, although some in the Grand Rapids and Muskegon areas — which were hit most heavily by Saturday’s thunderstorms and 60 mph winds — will wait until Tuesday.