Huffpost Detroit

Michigan Heat Wave 2012: Thousands Still Without Power As Temperatures Top 100

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DETROIT (AP) — Utility workers are expecting triple-digit temperatures Friday as they work to restore electricity to thousands of Michigan homes and businesses that are still without power following this week's thunderstorms.

The forecast calls for temperatures to hit or surpass 100 degrees in several cities including Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing.

Consumers Energy had 160 crews on the job Thursday and more were being called in from Indiana. At its peak, the power outages were affecting 104,000 of the utility's customers after storms that began hitting the state Tuesday toppled trees and branches onto power lines. Early Friday, the utility said about 52,100 were without power.

"We believe we have enough crews to handle this situation," utility spokesman Roger Morgenstern said. "Working in this intense heat is a challenge, and we put the safety of our crews and customers first — including making sure crews are well-hydrated and get adequate rest."

DTE Energy Co. said its crews were working 16-hour shifts and that workers who were sent to other states following storms along the East Coast have been called back. The utility said 325,000 of its customers were without power at the peak of the outages. DTE said Friday morning that about 105,000 of its customers were without power.

Most of those without electricity lost service after storms late Wednesday and Thursday, with more than 1,000 of its power lines down. Reports of downed wires were still coming in Thursday night, DTE spokesman Alejandro Bodipo-Memba said.

"Everybody is being hit throughout the Midwest and East," Bodipo-Memba said. "We don't expect to get any reciprocating help at this time because everybody is hit and struggling.

"If you have available manpower, that's when you're able to help."

Many communities on Thursday were removing downed tree limbs and wires from streets, roadways and sidewalks. Rain water flooded low-lying portions of highways, including Interstate 475 in the Flint area.

Following a batch of cooling rains that ended early Thursday afternoon, the temperatures began to climb. Grand Rapids hit 100 degrees by 5 p.m., and Friday's forecast called for high temperatures approaching 104 degrees.

Kalamazoo reached 102 degrees Thursday. Lansing hit 97, but a high of 103 was expected Friday. A concert scheduled for Friday in East Lansing was canceled after the National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning.

Detroit also was expected to top 100 degrees.

Ashley Jackson lives just north of Detroit in Southfield and believes she'll be able to endure the weather as long as her recently repaired air conditioning holds up. Jackson's unit stopped working last weekend, and it was inoperable for three days.

"Inside the house it was 91 degrees," the 23-year-old short-order cook said. "I left — me and my roommate — and went to the mall to get some air. We didn't go anywhere that didn't have air."

At night, she said, it was nearly unbearable.

"Nobody was talking to anybody," Jackson said. "We mostly slept, but it was hard to sleep because of the heat. I probably got about four hours of sleep each night."

___

Associated Press writer David Runk contributed to this report.

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