Michigan Residents Frustrated As Power Outages Linger

12:58 PM, Dec 27, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Nearly endless job for snow plow drivers

Trees frozen in ice cripple a section of power lines in Belgrade Dec. 24, 2013. From Michigan to Maine, hundreds of thousands lost power in a massive ice storm.(Photo: Michael G. Seamans, Morning Sentinel, AP)

Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY

Lingering power outages affecting tens of thousands of people are ratcheting up frustration levels, prompting a fight over a stolen generator in Michigan and the temporarily pullout of a power crew in Maine following a death threat.

Michigan was hardest hit by last weekend's weekend ice storm as nearly 600,000 homes and businesses lost power; 64,000 customers were still blacked out as of Friday morning.

Michigan power officials reported steady progress but said outages would continue in some areas into Saturday.

Michigan Man Loses Tooth In Fight for Generator

Maine reported almost 12,000 outages, and in eastern Canada, nearly 62,000 still hadn't had their power restored, including 33,000 in Toronto.

Susan Faloon, a spokesperson for Maine's Bangor Hydro, said one customer called in a death threat to a service center after he was told by a crew working in Surry, Maine, that their immediate project would not yet directly restore power to his home, the Bangor Daily News reports.

Faloon paraphrased the caller's threat as saying, "If that crew doesn't turn around and get my power back on I'm probably going to lose it. I'm probably going to kill someone."

MICHIGAN: Inside a Lansing area 'forgotten zone'

She said yanking the crew, even temporarily, from Surry was likely to slow the process of getting power restored.

In Lansing Township, Mich., a desperate Dave Behnke, 60, reported a state of desperation in his neighborhood, which he called a "forgotten zone."

He was especially dismayed when a newly bought $500 generator went silent around 11 p.m. Investigating, Behnke saw two men making off with the generator. He got it back in a punch-out and lost a tooth in the process.

"They told me the next day at the police department there'd been mine and four other ones stolen and I was the only one who got mine back because I chased the guys," Behnke told Lansing State Journal reporter Steven R. Reed.

At least one Michigan utility company is warning more problems could be on the way as temperatures warm up - even while the current colder temperatures make for more falling tree branches and other hazards.

Mary Palkovich, vice president of energy delivery for Consumers Energy, said warmer temperatures expected over the next couple of days could cause more tree limbs to snap and fall onto power lines as ice melts.

"This is an issue we often see with ice storms," Palkovich said in a statement. "It's not unusual, but it is a challenge for our crews and our customers."

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