Emergency crews monitoring storm

April 13, 2014

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Story and photo by Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

RIVERTON TWP. — Lightning zaps across the early morning sky, lighting up a couple wind turbines, on Hawley Road. Saturday night’s storm caused severe damage in southern Mason County and a large portion of Oceana County.

Over 1,000 Consumers Energy customers were without power in southern Mason County after strong winds whipped through the area around 8:15 p.m. Riverton Fire Chief Joe Cooper said he heard the wind pick up at his Morton Road house. He looked out the window and witnessed strong winds coming from the west. Shortly after that, his department got paged out to a call of a power transformer blown out on South Lakeshore Drive. Cooper started to respond directly to the scene. But, just a short distance from his house, on Hawley Road, he came across a barn, owned by Dave Wright, that had been blown apart by the winds. The strange thing, though, is the barn was about 100 feet to the south of the road, and the debris was directly north, mostly on the road, contradicting what Cooper had witnessed at his house, about a half mile away, just a few minutes earlier.

Cooper’s parents, Duane and Leslie Cooper, on Meisenheimer Road between Pere Marquette Highway and Brye Road in Summit Township, had major damage at their house. A willow tree near the road was uprooted towards the east. A tree fort, located on the west side of the house, was now smashed near the driveway over 100 feet away on the east side of the house. A tree smashed one of Duane’s tractors while parts of the roof of a barn, located northeast of the house, were scattered throughout the yard, even to the south.

Major tree and power line damage occurred in the Bass Lake area on South Lakeshore Drive. Power lines were also reported down along South Pere Marquette Highway from Hawley Road to Oceana Drive, Stiles Road south of Marrison Road, Anthony Road, Morton Road south of Anthony Road, Washington Road near Darr Road, among other locations.

As of 2:30 a.m., the following roads were closed:

– Lakeshore Drive is closed between Meisenheimer and Oceana Drive.
– South Pere Marquette Hwy. between Hawley and Oceana Drive.
– Stiles Road between Marrison and Washington Roads
– Meisenheimer Road is closed from PM Hwy. to Lakeshore Dr.

Road washouts were also reported on Fisher Road east of Stiles Road and also east of Jebavy Drive. The Pere Marquette River at Scottville Riverside Park was already under a flood warning prior to Saturday night’s storm.

During Saturday night storms, Riverton, Pere Marquette, Scottville, Hamlin and Custer fire departments were called to their areas for storm damage. A command center was set up at the Riverton Fire Department on Hawley Road, centralizing emergency crews including law enforcement, fire and emergency management. Mason County Road Commission crews along with utility workers were patrolling the roads and clearing roadway hazards and power line issues.

The majority of emergency crews were sent home by 1 a.m. but operations are expected to start up again at day break. Fire and sheriff personnel will be out assessing damage.

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