As part of yesterday’s storm in Holland, City Hall lost power and internet. As a result, I used Facebook to post some updates. (UPDATE: I was able to use the Facebook for iPhone app.) Now that we’re back up and running, I’ll post here and then cross-post a link to FB.
Holland continues to recover. There are fewer than 500 BPW still without power — and those are generally in scattered areas. All of the main circuits were back up last night. Now it is more individual power lines that service a block, a few houses, or even a single house. Crews from the BPW, with assistance from the Zeeland BPW and the Grand Haven Board of Power & Light are working hard to get power restored as fast as possible. Most of those 500 customers should have power restored later today.
As far as the 138 kilovolt lines that run along Pine Avenue near the James DeYoung Power Plant, that is a very major project that will take some time to complete. The size of the poles (which either bent or snapped altogether) is rather rare in our grid area and, as a result, the BPW does not have the capacity to handle those matters. Instead, it contracts with a company that specializes in transmission lines of this size. That crew arrived from Indiana last night and has been working since. I cannot stress enough that this is a major destructive effort and it will take time to clean the damage, remove the poles and towers, have them replaced, stringing new lines, and then slowly power up everything again. Check the BPW website for updates.
Please also keep in mind that the BPW service area has redundant circuits build so that, even though this 138 line is down, that alone isn’t causing any of the current power outages. This is another reminder (to me as much as anyone) that the basics of municipal government (roads, sewers, electricity, etc.) aren’t necessarily exciting — and are often taken for granted — but they surely are important.
My sense is that our BPW crews, in cooperation with our neighboring utility workers, are working with all deliberate speed. This was a major, if concentrated storm, that happened to hit us in some pretty critical areas. This may be small comfort if your home or business doesn’t have power some 24 hours after the storm; however, that most of the customers were back and running within only a few hours of a body-blow of a storm speaks well of our utility.
As for the tree removal and cleanup, city street and parks crews are working long days to remove the downed trees and limbs from our streets (mostly done), our public right of ways, our parks, and our cemeteries. The task is monumental. (One 35-year veteran of the parks department reports that he’s never seen anything like this in his tenure with the city.) In Pilgrim Home Cemetery alone, around 30 major trees either were uprooted, snapped, or had major limbs ripped off. It will take time — read, weeks I suspect – for all of the work to be completed. But crews are working extended hours to get the job done and I wouldn’t be surprised if private crews are hired to assist.
Remember, the city manager and I decided that people who have storm-related yard debris can place it at the curb for pickup. Details are here. Also the Red Cross is offering assistance to those who need it due to the storm. Details here. Additional updates will be posted at the City’s website.
All in all, the city is getting back to normal. For many of us, it already is so. Downtown was busy, commerce was occurring. On one level, it was an ordinary and beautiful summer day. But for others, there is much work to do. Let’s all look out for our neighbors a little bit extra over the next weeks. If you’ve got a crew working near your house, offer them something cold to drink or sweet to eat. If you have an organization (church or service group, for example) that can offer help to those in need, or if you need a little help to clean up, feel free to email me (email@example.com). I’ll try to put those in need in contact with those who want to help.
I’ll try to keep the updates coming, even if they are a bit less frequent. Thanks, as always.