Mother Nature Is a Fickle Beast
On Wednesday night, storms barreled through West Michigan, destroying homes, cars and anything else in their path. The National Weather Service has determined that no tornado touchdowns occured. Instead they say that straight-line winds, with gusts reaching up to 100 miles per hour, were the cause of most of the damage. Some swirls of wind may have been a factor, but they did not reach full tornado status. A 50 mile path from Walker to Lake Odessa shows the damage this storm is responsible for. On Lookout Hill, in Northeast Grand Rapids, a newer apartment building had the roof completely torn off. In Ada a quarter mile path through a wooded area shows hundreds of downed trees. Over 50,000 people lost power as a result of this storm.
I live just two blocks away from where the apartment building had the roof ripped off. Similar building, built within a few years of each other. What we saw from our place was truly incredible and terrifying at the same time. The sky got dark, as the rain started to fall slowly. Then it turned into a torrential downpour in a matter of minutes. Following this came the wind, and all hell broke loose.
When the rain started coming down heavy, we opened our blinds to look outside. The first thing we seen was a 80 foot tree in our neighbors back yard bend as far as it would go before snapping and falling into their yard. Trash cans were at the curb to be picked up. They soon were upended spewing trash, paper, and all of their contents across the neighborhood. Construction barrels began flying through the air as if they weighed no more than a cardboard box. The trash cans and construction barrels were slamming into cars, setting off the alarms. A young tree on the street snapped at the base and the larger trees were dropping branches all over the place.
What surprised me the most was the road closed sign. You know, the big ones that stretch across an entire traffic lane. These signs are pretty heavy, and the wind picked it up, carried it up a 4-5 foot hill and it landed up against our apartment building.
The Power Outage
In the year and a half that I have lived at my apartment complex, we have never fully lost power. We have had some bad storms where our friends have lost power, but ours would simply flicker off and then come back on within minutes. I attribute part of this to living in close proximity to the hospitals and medical buildings. I assume this is one of the most important grids to maintain power at.
This time was different. Our neighbor got a text from consumers around 8pm that said they were working on restoring our power. The only problem was that we hadn’t lost power, not yet atleast. Around 9pm everything went dark. The entire area was eerie, stepping outside and seeing no lights as far as we could look. Luckily, and I believe this to be due to my grid theory, our power was only out for 4 hours or so. When I woke up around 2am, everything was back on.
As of Thursday morning, only 28,000 of the original 50,000 were still without power. 20,000 of those are within Kent county. Most of that was to be restored by Thursday night, but some of the hardest hit areas may not get power back until Saturday.
In addition to West Michigan, the East side of the state also has thousands of people without power. Tornadoes and severe storms were the cause if this on Tuesday night.
There is much being done in the local community to help with the aftermath of these storms. From donations and fundraisers, to people clearing roads and picking up trash, the community is standing strong together. There was a group of tents in a wooded area when the storm hit. Several people were living in these tents and had no place to take shelter from the trees and braches falling down aroung them. Luckily nobody was hurt, but their living area was destroyed. Local churches and volunteers got together to donate tents, clothing, food, and other necessities to these people. They expressed extreme gratitude for the care from the community.
In other parts of the city, neighbors have gathered to help remove fallen trees and branches from the roadway. Some were out there with chainsaws, log splitters and wood chippers, clearing away the debris. Some had no choice but to clear it, as their driveways were completely blocked, leaving them stranded at home until they could make a path. One resident has been travelling on his ATV as it is the only thing that can navigate the downed trees.
Remember, if you are helping with the cleanup, stay away from down power lines. Give them at least 50ft distance and report them to Consumer’s Energy.