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Road Commissions and Power Companies Brace for Cold, Wind in Holiday Storm

Snow Plow

Road commissions and power companies expect to be busy over the next couple of days dealing with the impact of this storm.

“They realize they’re public servants, and they realize that this is something that they signed up for,” said Osceola County Road Commission Manager Michael Mattzela.

Mattzela said his crews were out in full strength Friday, with 17 trucks busy plowing roads.

“We’re going to be out all day today, and we’ll be out early Saturday morning,” Mattzela said. “We’ll see how long they’re out Saturday. If it’s really bad, they’re going to be out all day and into the night.”

The wind made it especially hard for their trucks to plow.

“We could plow a road, and in just a few minutes, that kind of drifts back over, ” Mattzela said. “We’re having to go through our roads multiple times to keep them open at this point.”

With the frigid temperatures, it’s hard to salt the roads, too.

“When you combine all those together, it makes it more difficult for us,” said Mattzela.

Above the ground, Consumers Energy says this storm could cause prolonged outages.

“When you’re dealing with those kinds of peak wind gusts, that is when trees can be uprooted, that is when they can come down on our power lines, and that is really what causes extensive damage and power outages,” said Consumers Energy Media Spokesperson Josh Paciorick.

Paciorick said hundreds of linemen are on standby across the state, especially in lakeshore communities where wind gusts are expected to be the strongest.

“We cannot safely put our crews up in bucket trucks when wind gusts are over 30 miles per hour,” he said. “It could sway the bucket trucks, it could cause the truck to come into contact with energized lines, it could put our crews in danger.”

What crews will be doing, he said, is work on restoration efforts from the ground.

“We can also assess the damage, survey the damage from the ground, so that we know what we have to do once we can go up into bucket trucks,” Paciorick said.

Despite the challenges, they’re ready for what mother nature may throw at them.

“It’s just at this point it’s a matter of watching what the storm ends up doing,” Paciorick said.