On June 13, 2022, record-setting storms moved through I&M's service territory. High winds were recorded across Michigan, South Bend, Elkhart and Fort Wayne. Wind gusts of 98 mph were recorded at Fort Wayne Airport - the equivalent of a category 2 hurricane.
The damage was significant. Trees and limbs were down everywhere, blocking roads, tearing down power lines, breaking poles and damaging limbs and vehicles. Southwest Michigan, Churubusco, Tri-Lakes, Southwest Fort Wayne and Waynedale were particularly hard hit.
Crews responded immediately and mutual assistance and contract crews quickly joined restoration efforts. Over the next four days more than 600 I&M employees and contractors worked with more than 600 mutual assistance personnel to restore power.
It was not an easy process. The number of downed trees blocked access to much of our equipment and even some substations. Many crews had to cut paths through downed trees just to begin restoration work.
There were many additional challenges, including difficulty transporting poles and equipment, and the sweltering heat forcing many breaks to cool off and keep hydrated. Crews wear substantial protective equipment, including long-sleeve FR clothing, thick gloves and in some cases full-length rubber sleeves to safely work on power lines. This protective equipment means heat and hydration are of paramount importance. Crews will often have to stop during the day to dump sweat out of their gloves and sleeves to continue working.
Though it was a challenging restoration, by the end of the week crews had repaired immense damage and restored approximately 41,000 customers who lost service.
Damage totals included:
- 715 Downed Power lines
- 224 Broken Poles
- 132 Broken Pole Crossarms
- 67 Damaged Transformers
Being without power is frustrating, especially for multiple days in extreme heat, and we are thankful to our customers for your patience and support.
Through social media, emails, in person-conversations and more, we received hundreds - if not thousands - of messages of thanks and support for our crews and the hundreds of workers from across the country who left their families to help ours.
Special thanks go to a few community members for donating resources to our crews. Meijer provided pallets of water - a great need for crews who were going through cases per day - and anonymous donors paid for cold treats for crews at our two staging areas, providing ice cream and snow cones Thursday evening.
The thanks, praise, patience and support helped keep morale high as the more than 1,200 strong workforce completed repairs as quickly and safely as possible. We're happy to report the entire restoration was completed with Zero Harm. No injuries were sustained during the several days of long hours needed to get the lights, and the air conditioning, back on.