Storm knocks out power on west end

ISHPEMING – Almost 200 Upper Peninsula Power Co. customers in the Ishpeming-Negaunee area remained without power this morning after heavy rain and winds brought down trees and broke as many as 15 power poles.

UPPCO officials said they expect power to be restored to affected customers today.

To help restore power, 20 to 24 crews of two to four men each – several of which were brought up from northern Wisconsin – worked all day Monday on the downed trees and broken poles, said Steve Lillie, UPPCO’s customer service manager. It has been a challenge, Lillie said, because in some areas they needed to bring in specialized equipment for off-road work.

Due to the number of crews working on the damage, Lillie said they’re “going to be able to hit (the damage areas) really hard,” and expect to make good progress today.

“The biggest problem we ran into … was broken poles,” UPPCO spokesman Todd Steffen said.

He said strong winds and fallen trees caused damage to the poles, which are time consuming to repair. He said broken poles have to be removed and replaced with new ones, which then have to have the electrical equipment reattached.

“The size and scope of the trees that came down was impressive,” Lillie said. “Because of the size of the trees, some of the stuff we had snapped halfway up and pushed out over the road.”

He said the hardest hit areas were Ishpeming Township moving south through Palmer, south of Ishpeming – on Marquette County Road PPV, also known as Mail Route Road – and on Marquette County Road 581.

At the height of the power outage Monday, 1,847 customers were without power with nearly all of them in the Ishpeming area.

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.