DTE Energy: 250,000 without power, 1,200 wires down in Metro Detroit due to ice storm

Widespread ice storm continues to impact customers throughout Southeast Michigan

A winter storm hit Metro Detroit on April 15, 2018. (WDIV)
A winter storm hit Metro Detroit on April 15, 2018. (WDIV)

DETROIT – More than 250,000 customers are without power due to a winter ice storm in Metro Detroit, according to DTE Energy.

More than 1,000 employees are working to restore power, according to the company.

"The storm is moving south to north in our service territory, so additional customers continue to be impacted at this point," Trevor Lauer, president of the electric company at DTE Energy, said.

Widespread ice causes downed wires

Lauer said DTE officials started to prepare for the storm Thursday, sending a couple of hundred crews north of I-69, where the ice was largely supposed to hit.

Frozen ice covering a power line in Metro Detroit. (WDIV)
Frozen ice covering a power line in Metro Detroit. (WDIV)

"What's been different is the ice hit broadly across all of Southeast Michigan," Lauer said. "We're reacting to it right now as it's happening, but we did see it coming and we tried to do everything we could to be ready."

One Detroit family woke up to a massive tree on their porch. While it narrowly missed their roof, it did knock off their power. 

"There was a "boom" but we didn't know the damage until we woke up.  We called DTE, but they didn't know when it would be fixed," said Cutrenia Harrell.  

Lauer said the conditions are making it difficult for repair crews, but they're focused on ensuring customers are safe.

VIDEOSI-75 flooding in both directions near 7 Mile Road

"We have approximately 1,200 wires that have come down," Lauer said. "What happens with the ice is it gets on the trees, the tree branches get very heavy, and then they fall on the wires and on the poles."

There are about 1,000 wires down in Wayne County, including several in Detroit, Lauer said.

When will power be restored?

Lauer said DTE expects to have restoration estimates by the end of the day Sunday. He said it's difficult to make accurate estimates until the storm passes through.

"We've got to let the weather clear through our system and understand the sheer number of outages that we're going to deal with," Lauer said.

A winter storm hit Metro Detroit on April 15, 2018. (WDIV)
A winter storm hit Metro Detroit on April 15, 2018. (WDIV)

DTE requested 400 additional resources from Ohio to come up and help with restoration on Monday.

"We'll get at this pretty strong, but we've got to let the weather clear before we can fully understand the restoration for all the customers," Lauer said.

DTE Energy outage map: Thousands of Metro Detroiters without power due to winter storm

Lauer said there are workers assessing the damage across the area, and asked customers to be patient during the process.

"Once we start the strong restoration activities, we can better understand how long it will take," Lauer said.

Wayne County among hardest-hit areas

The ice storm has caused damage across Southeast Michigan, but Lauer said Wayne County, especially Detroit, and up into the thumb were hit especially hard.

A winter storm hit Metro Detroit on April 15, 2018. (WDIV)
A winter storm hit Metro Detroit on April 15, 2018. (WDIV)

"It's really affected us from Wayne County the whole way up through the thumb," Lauer said. "We were surprised by the level of damage in Wanye County, the city of Detroit. Those are two areas where we didn't expect the icing. It was all supposed to hit north of I-69."

A downed power line in Warren lit 10 cars on fire at a used dealership. A viewer video captured huge flames and thick plumes of smoke.

Lauer said it's important for customers to stay away from downed wires and only use generators outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

DTE Energy will continue to update outage numbers as officials get more accurate information.

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