More than 10,000 Washtenaw County Detroit Edison customers remained in the dark yesterday after last week”s ice storms caused 49,000 homes to lose electricity, according to company reports.
Michael Porter, Detroit Edison vice president of corporate communications, said Friday that the electricity loss was caused by downed power lines, which he attributed to falling tree limbs, high winds and ice buildup on the lines.
The residential area south of Forest Hill Cemetery on Geddes Avenue and Observatory Street heavily concentrated with students was among those hit by the power outages.
LSA junior Sheri Osher said her home on Linden Street was without power for 24 hours, beginning late Thursday evening.
Osher said she was told by a Detroit Edison spokesperson that the company took a long time to restore service to the area because the company was concerned with other problems.
“We called and they said they were only servicing emergencies right now,” she said.
University facilities were affected very little by the outages. No residence halls lost power, said Diane Brown, Facilities and Operations spokeswoman. However, two Hill-area University-owned facilities lost electricity. Oxford Housing, which houses no permanent residents, and medical fraternity Nu Sigma Nu lost electric service following the ice storm Thursday evening, Brown said.
Detroit Edison spokeswoman Lorie Kessler said thousands of Detroit Edison employees have been working to fix the power outages and are now in the final stages of repairs. Of the 265,000 southeastern Michigan customers who lost electricity, Kessler expected that 95 percent should have had it returned by late yesterday. She said the process should be finished today.
The difficulty in restoring power is that the situation worsens as time passes, Porter said. “In an ice storm, the damage is progressive. Even as we are restoring (electricity to) people there is more and more ice buildup,” Porter said.
“Even though we”re restoring people on a continuous basis, we”re having a hard time,” he added.
Ice buildup on power lines could continue today. A high temperature near 22 degrees and a low at night of 9 to 14 degrees is expected, said University weather observer Dennis Kahlbaum.
But he said weather will improve tomorrow with a high near 33 degrees.
Another sign of the improved situation is the closing of an American Red Cross shelter that provided food and shelter to local residents who had lost electricity since the Red Cross closed the shelter yesterday afternoon after receiving no requests for shelter over a 12-hour period.