West Michigan prepares for weekend severe weather with possible power outages


Michigan Emergency Management officials and police are encouraging preparations for severe weather expected to impact a large part of the state.

Parts of Kent, Allegan, Ottawa and Barry counties could see mass power outages and Newschannel 3's Mike Krafcik reported on how residents are preparing.

Many residents are using the calm before the storm to ready themselves for a likelihood of a power outage.

Elsie McKevely said, “You have to expect it. It's part of living in Michigan.”

As yet another unpredictable round of weather headed for West Michigan and Barry County residents, like McKevely, spent the day stocking up.

She said, “I got the milk, because you just don't want to go out. I told my husband to get the generator ready, get some gas.”

Parts of West Michigan are under a winter storm watch starting Friday through Sunday morning.

Expected high winds, combined with heavy, iced-over tree branches, which could result in widespread power outages.

Roger Morgenstern, Consumer’s Energy spokesperson, said, “Our lines are designed to take a certain amount of freezing rain, but when we get above a third or a half inch, we get concerned about those lines coming down.”

Consumers Energy has extra crews on standby,

Morgenstern said, “We're probably in the thousands of customers affected.”

Some residents aren't fretting despite the forecast.

Deb Huver said, “I've been watching the weather, the radar, and whatnot, I'm not worried about it. Just going to hunker down at home. I've lived through it before and can live through it again.”

Local hardware stores expecting a rush as the weather gets bad.

Carol Bolthouse, Hastings Ace Hardware, said, “Different sizes of lanterns and handheld flashlights.”

She says once the storm nears that items like batteries, flashlights, and kerosene heaters will fly off the shelves.

Bolthouse said, “It's a rush. Everybody piles in and wants stuff. We have stayed open later for people that losing their power and they lost it.”

It's anyone's guess how long the power might be out.

McKevely said, “I'm looking at maybe 3 days.”

Emergency officials remind people to stay at least 25 from any downed lines and report any outages to the power company, not 911.

Morgenstern said, “check on our neighbors, too. If you have some elderly neighbors, make sure they're ready for the storm. In case we have several days without power.”

And in the event of a loss of power, it's recommended people keep an emergency preparedness kit with food, water, clothes, blankets, and flashlights.

Bolthouse said, “Make sure you have flashlights on hand. Make sure you have batteries. That's the main thing when you lose power to make sure you have light to get around with it.”