2 deaths linked to Mich. storm that downed trees, wires and left power outages

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Two deaths have been linked to a storm this week that toppled trees and electrical wires in high winds.

A 17-year-old driver died after a large tree limb fell on a vehicle in Pokagon Township in southwest Michigan, the Cass County Sheriff's Office reported.

In Lapeer County, a tree fell onto a truck and a branch pierced the windshield, killing a 36-year-old passenger who had been traveling with her son and husband, the Sheriff's Office said.

Crews were making progress Thursday on efforts statewide to restore power to thousands of customers affected by the severe weather and rain continued in the region.

The DTE Energy website showed more than 10,000 customers with power outages early Friday. Large clusters were reported near Livonia, Southfield, Waterford and Flint.  

As many as 1,300 crew members were in the field to restore power, the utility said.

"We know how challenging it is to be without power," officials wrote. "Our crews are working to quickly and safely restore power to everyone impacted. Please be safe and remain at least 20 feet away from downed power lines or anything in contact with them. Assume any downed line is live and dangerous."

Consumers Energy said more than 91,000 homes and businesses lost power overall. By Friday morning, it had restored power to all but about 7,000  customers. Most of the outages were in Allegan, Barry, Van Buren, Kalamazoo, Jackson, Calhoun, Washtenaw and Genesee counties. 

More than 210 crews worked through the night and Thursday on restoration efforts, the company said in a statement.

"Our crews are incredible. Because of their efforts, we are still on track to meet our restoration target of having a large majority of impacted customers back on by the end of the day and a few of the hardest hit areas restored Friday,” said Guy Packard, Consumers Energy’s officer in charge for the restoration work. “We appreciate how cooperative and understanding our customers have been. We’ll continue to work through the evening and overnight to finish the job.”

Winds topped 50 mph in some places across the state as a storm pushed through Wednesday, fueled by hot and humid air, the National Weather Service said.

Toppled trees were widespread, and are believed to have caused at least two deaths.

A falling tree hit a truck Wednesday in Lapeer County, leaving a passenger dead.

Flooding was reported on area roads after the heavy downpours Wednesday and Thursday. Rainfall totals by early Thursday included 2.26 in Whitmore Lake, 2.20 in Waterford, 1.99 in Bloomfield Hills, 1.77 in Owosso, 1.54 in Shelby Township and 1.39 in Roseville, according to the weather service.

The region saw mostly cloudy conditions Thursday and highs in the 80s.

Friday could be slightly warmer, with highs in the mid-80s and slight chance of storms.

Heat returns for the weekend, with the weather service predicting the mercury rising into the 90s on Saturday and Sunday under sunny skies.

mhicks@detroitnews.com