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Posted: 04/16/14

Above, the lights on the visitor's side of Barnabo Field were blown over by the storm on April 12. At left, pine trees were knocked over on Fernwood Path in Washington Township. Below, Taft Oil building in Washington Township lost its roof due to high winds.

(Observer photos by Mike Nicley and Linda Lindberg)

Severe weather causes
widespread damage

Observer Staff Writer
      Thousands of residents and businesses were without electricity following southeast Michigan's first wave of severe weather over the weekend.
       A severe thunderstorm brought straight line winds up to 70 MPH and tons of hail on April 12, knocking out power for 12,000 DTE Energy customers in Macomb County.
       DTE Energy spokeswoman Erica Donerson said combined with a second blast of high winds on Monday, crews were working around the clock to restore power to 70,000 southeast Michigan customers.
       "Because of the high winds we have experienced downed power lines, we have trees or tree limbs on the lines," she said. "The wind even took down some poles."
       Starting around 8 p.m. on April 12, reports of wind damage coupled with nickel-sized hail poured into the National Weather Service from Romeo and Washington Township. In some areas, enough hail covered the ground to give it the appearance of snow.
       Wind gusts of up to 60 MPH then blew through on Monday, uprooting trees, toppling utility poles and even tearing the roof off of Taft Oil on Van Dyke near 28 Mile Road.
       As of 8 a.m. Monday, 5,236 DTE Energy customers were without power in Washington Township and 602 customers in Ray Township. Only three customers in Romeo were without power.
       DTE estimated that crews would be working through Tuesday at a minimum to complete restoration.
       Washington Township Fire Chief Brian Tyrell said the majority of damage took place in the 28 Mile and 29 Mile road corridors near Mound Road. Despite all the chaos and downed lines, he said no injuries to residents or personnel were reported.
       "Power lines were down, there were snapped utility poles, several trees on houses and cars," he said.
       Tyrell said emergency sirens were not sounded during the storm because the National Weather Service determined the storm didn't fall into the category of activating sirens.
       "We didn't get any reported sightings of tornadoes or other cloud formations, but I think that wind was a lot stronger than the National Weather Service anticipated," he said.
       The Shelby Township and Bruce-Romeo fire departments provided assistance to Washington Township during the storm recovery so emergency services could be maintained.
       Tyrell said there is consideration for declaring a local disaster in Washington Township to see whether the federal or state government can provide assistance in repairs.
       "The damage is definitely evident," he said.
Damaged facilities

       Romeo Community Schools has shut down all events at Barnabo Field due to the weather knocking down two light towers. Don Gratton, maintenance supervisor, said the district has an insurance adjuster inspecting the damage to determine the next steps in cleaning the field and resuming activities.
       "It was pretty ugly to be quite honest," he said. "It's not going to be easy, it's going to take some equipment to remove a lot of the damage."
       The district also saw an old cinderblock well-house at Powell Middle School completely destroyed and a rooftop air handler flipped over at the Romeo Engineering and Technology Center.
       "The important thing is no one was hurt," Gratton said.
       Power outages closed down Powell Middle School and Washington Elementary on April 14. Superintendent Nancy Campbell said the district is applying for a waiver with the state to see if the schools won't have to make up the lost time.
       Residents are advised to stay 20 feet away from any downed power lines, and to consider any downed line active. To report fallen lines, call DTE Energy at (800) 477-4747.

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Retrieved 7/31/2015 at 3:24:03 PM.
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