Almost two years…

Well, given that it has been nearly two years since my last post, let me state the obvious:  I don’t use this forum very often.   I can’t guarantee or promise that I’ll never post here regularly again (one never knows), but for those interested I would encourage instead that you head over to my Twitter Feed (@kurtdykstra) for more regular updates and information.

Also, if you are looking for Holland, Michigan info, check out these Twitter Feeds, too:

  • @CityofHolland (The Official Twitter Feed of the City of Holland, Michigan)
  • @DowntownHolland (The Official Twitter Feed of Downtown Holland)
  • @discoverholland (The Official Twitter Feed of the Holland Area Convention and Visitors Bureau)
  • @HBPW_News (The Official Twitter Feed of the Holland Board of Public Works)


The Friday Afternoon Recovery Report

The BPW has informed me that the only customers without power are those who need to have residential electricians complete work before being re-connected to the BPW’s grid.  Aside from the outside crews working on the 138 kv line, all visiting and assisting crews are returning home.   (Again, we appreciate the public utilities of Traverse City, Zeeland, Grand Haven, South Haven, and Hillsdale — and I hope I have not forgotten any other assisting utilities.)  BPW crews continue to replace and cleanup broken poles and other debris from the storm.

I have written quite a bit about the 138 kv line and wanted briefly to write a bit more about it.  That transmission line — carrying 138,000 volts of power — loops the entire BPW service area, which extends outside the city’s limits.  It has various substations in the loop and interconnections with the broader electrical grid outside the BPW’s service area to allow power in and out of our local network:

When the section of the line south of the DeYoung Power plant went down, within a few hours the 138 loop was back in operation with power being sent north around the loop from DeYoung.  The lines running south from DeYoung to roughly the first substation have not been energized since the storm took out the system.  This loop configuration, as I understand generally (remember, I’m not an engineer), allows the power to flow from either direction and minimizes outages (as opposed to a simple linear, non-looped, system where if there is a break somewhere in the line, the system is down across it).  This explains why the fact that part of the 138 kv line still being down does not cause the entire network to be down.

Hopefully, we will see completion of enough of the 138 line project over the weekend to permit at least a partial re-opening of Pine Avenue.  I’ll try to keep this site updated as I receive news.

The Friday Morning Recovery Report

Well, we’re down to less than 25 customers without power — and at least of few of those customers apparently are without power because they are waiting for residential electricians to do some things inside the line-to-house connection.

Yesterday afternoon, Lincoln Avenue between 16th and 24th Streets re-opened.  That had been closed since Monday due to downed trees and power lines.

Work continues on the 138 kv line at Pine Avenue.  Hopefully, Pine Avenue from the bridge to 7th Street will be re-opened (at least in part with a lane or two) sometime this weekend.

Park, cemetery, and street recovery efforts continue and are making good progress.  While not an official suggestion (remember, this is my personal blog) I have heard reports of people with trucks and/or trailers out collecting trunks and major limbs set at the curb to cut up for firewood.  That seems like an industrious use of those materials and will reduce the amount of material having to be picked up.  The materials that are picked up will be delivered to Chef Container where the wood that can be, will be ground up for chips and mulch.

Thanks for your continued patience.  Thanks, too, to our city and BPW employees who have had a very, very busy week.

Video from Last Evening’s Special Meeting of the City Council Now Online

As mentioned before, city council had a long discussion with senior city and BPW staff last night about Monday’s storm event, the damage, and the restoration progress to that point (7 p.m. last night).  That video is now online.

The Thursday Morning Recovery Report

I heard from the BPW that we are under 100 customers without power.  (More details on the restoration efforts, who is involved, etc.  here and here.)  The visiting crews from across the state are still here.

This morning around 9 a.m. the city hall voicemail was restored.  Essentially, the system had to be rebuilt.  I don’t know many of the details of how the system is “rigged” at this point to account for the old PBX system and damaged voicemail server, but our IT director told me that we are up and running.

The tree crews continue to make good progress in our streets, parks, and cemeteries.  Remember that you may set out branches, limbs, and fallen storm debris for a special municipal pickup.  Details here.

A special word of thanks to Mayor Les Hoogland and City Manager Tim Klunder from the City of Zeeland.  I heard yesterday that the City of Zeeland sent over a tree trimming crew and they have, and are still, making great progress in cleaning up some of our public spaces.  Zeeland didn’t have to do that; but they did.  It is another in a long array of data points about the great community spirit that exists here in this place we all call home.

Remember to be on the lookout for those in need in our neighborhoods — and express your appreciation to those city, BPW, and visiting crews working long and hard to get us back up and running.

More Neighbor Helping Neighbor Opportunities . . .

We’re listening to a report from City Manager Soren Wolff and BPW General Manager Loren Howard at a special meeting of the city council.  It is being broadcast on Mac Media (public access TV) and will be online soon.  [UPDATE:  7/14/11 @ 15:15 — video uploaded and available.]  As an additional matter to a previous post, if you want to volunteer your services to help others in Holland who are still clearing debris, limbs, and trunks, please call the Parks Department at 616.928.2450.  I have heard already of some residents grabbing their chainsaws and helping others in town.  You also can email me ( and I will forward your information to the appropriate city offices.

Also, we still have about 150 BPW customers who are still without power.  The remaining service restoration is individual houses or a couple of houses.  That means the work is rather slow-going and the “payoff” is limited (a restoration that may take hours brings only a couple of houses up at a time).   We have crews in from Zeeland, Grand Haven, Traverse City, Hillsdale, and South Haven assisting our BPW crews.

That means that we have families who have been without power for a couple of days.  If residents have generators that they would be willing to allow fellow residents to use, please feel free to email me as well.  (Hopefully the city hall voicemail will be up later tonight as the damage was greater than first thought.  I will update this blog as city hall voicemail is again operational.)

Also, if you have suffered damage or lost trees on your property, please call the city assessor’s office (616.355.1350) so that we can get it recorded for reporting to FEMA.  We do not have great hope that we will be declared a disaster area, but we need to submit the data very quickly (as in the next day or so) to the state and federal governments so that the determination can be made.

Need Assistance With Clean Up? Want to Help With Clean Up? Read On . . .

From the City’s Parks and Recreation Department:

Storm Cleanup

Pay It Forward – Help Your Neighbor

HOLLAND – Helping your neighbor is what Holland residents do. Because of the recent storm, there are residents of the City of Holland who have been very generous in offering assistance to the City by providing manpower to assist with storm clean up.

We have determined that the very best way to help would be to canvas the neighborhoods that have been most affected by the storm and assist residents – especially those who might have physical disabilities, to get any debris that they might have to the curbside for pick up.

Also, if you visit some of the parks that have been hit the worst and collect some of the smaller limbs into brush piles, this will allow our City staff to concentrate on taking care of some of the bigger trees and limbs.

Residents are reminded that they have through this weekend, July 17th to get their storm debris placed curbside. This will be very much like the City’s Spring Cleanup Program where branches need to be limited to 6-8” in diameter and be cut to 6-8’ in length. No stumps will be removed. If residents had whole, private trees come down, they will need to contract with a tree service for removal of those.

Beginning on Monday, July 18th, City Street Dept. crews will begin a single pass through the City to collect those materials. As with Spring Cleanup, they will go by each resident one time only. Debris placed curbside after July 17th will not be picked up.

Residents who are unable to get their refuse out by the deadline may call 355-1335 to request a Project Pride Day coupon. This coupon allows residents to bring a load of refuse to Chef Container at no cost to them. You do have to bring it to Chef this is not a curbside pickup.

If you are interested in offering assistance and are wondering how best to do that, please contact the Parks Division at 928-2450 for suggestions and THANK YOU for your patience and efforts!

Full info here.

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