Three Towns Could Qualify for Disaster Aid After Storms Cause Power Outages, Damage
Storms ripped through the area Sunday, June 11, knocking down trees and power lines, springing local cleanup crews into action and leaving many without power until Wednesday, June 14. Outages could continue until Thursday, June 15 or Friday, June 16.
Sunday's storms knocked out power for over 91,000 residents of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan from Wausau north to Menominee, Mi. By Monday morning, Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) crews had restored power to 68,000 homes, leaving 24,000 still without power.
Making matters worse for residents of Florence, Marinette, Menominee and Oconto counties were Monday night storms in the Stevens Point, Antigo, Chilton and Green Bay areas. This knocked out the power of an additional 17,000 customers in Stevens Point alone, and brought the total of those without power up to 34,600 as of 9 p.m. on Monday, June 13.
This required some WPS crews to go to Stevens Point and other areas, slowing the process of restoring power to the northeast corner of Wisconsin.
By 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night, power had been restored to about 110,000 customers, but 12,500 were still without power, but more storms Tuesday night knocked out power for Marinette and Menominee residents. At 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night, 580 Marinette and Menominee customers were without power, but at 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 14, the number was back up to 1,500. As of Wednesday morning, June 14, 7,600 were still without power in the WPS service area, though 5,500 of the outages were in Stevens Point and surrounding areas.
The Town of Porterfield also had 1,000 remaining without power as of Wednesday morning, June 14, while Peshtigo had 208 affected. No other area municipality had more than 100 affected as of Wednesday morning.
As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, the Town of Peshtigo Fire Department had responded to 30 calls, and they weren't alone. The City of Peshtigo Fire Department responded to over 20 locations in the city during the storm.
At one point Sunday, WPS dispatch was 700 calls behind and Marinette County Dispatch was backlogged by over 200 calls.
Marinette County Emergency Management Director Eric Burmeister reported seeing one home with three trees fallen on three separate cars, while others reported as many as nine trees down on one property and shelters flipped over.
In the Town of Stephenson, the Fire Department had a home struck by lightning, but were initially unable to reach the scene due to fallen trees. It wasn't until roads were cleared that they could get to the home.
In total, damages sustained in Marinette County were about $85,000, Burmeister said.
Burmeister also addressed the Peshtigo Town Board, telling them that they are one of three municipalities that he expects will qualify for the Wisconsin Disaster Fund, along with the Village of Crivitz and the Town of Stephenson. The Town of Dunbar is also expected to apply, according to Kathy Frank, Marinette County Emergency Management Public Information Officer.
The fund will reimburse municipalities for 70 percent of their disaster relief efforts if they qualify. To qualify, the Town of Peshtigo must spend a total of $14,820 on storm cleanup, which equates to $3.61 multiplied by a municipality's population. According to 2016 statistics, the town's 2016 population was 4,105.
Other area municipalities are not expected to qualify if they had less damage or have a population, making their threshold for qualification higher.
Frank had some advice for people dealing with home owner's insurance issues. "Take pictures, take pictures, take pictures. I can't say it enough."
WPS continues to urge people to stay at least 25 feet away from downed power lines, and treat any downed line as energized.
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