Hard work from crews, community, during widespread power outages

Published: Dec. 3, 2019 at 4:44 PM EST
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"We bundled up, we slept in jackets, we put stuff on our head, and stayed in the bed. That's how we survived."

Those are the words of Gwinn resident Sandy Gearhart, who is just one of the approximately 12,000 U.P. residents who lost power during last week's winter storms.

"The second storm is where we couldn't get out of our door. It was a struggle. There was no heat, no water, nothing because we're on a septic, for five days,” Gearhart said.

Forsyth Township and surrounding areas were hit particularly hard.

"For some residents to be without power for six, going on seven, days is unprecedented,” said Forsyth Township Executive Director of Emergency Management, Myron Hillock.

Crews worked around the clock to restore power to residents, responding to more than 2,000 locations.

As of 12:30 Monday afternoon, only around 19 outages remained.

"We had over 120 line crews and field technicians, both from UPPCO and contractors, that worked 16-plus hour days since last Wednesday responding to the trouble,” said UPPCO Vice President of Business Development and Communications, Brett French.

One of those crews showed up at Gearhart's house, determined to get the lights and heat back on.

"They did a great job. They once said 'we're not leaving the area until we get you fixed' and they walked through this snow to get through down there. They struggled,” a grateful Gearhart explained.

In addition to the hard work from restoration crews, Hillock added that the community also pulled together to help each other through the tough week.

"Regional Health brought in air mattresses, Red Cross gave us a lot of donations as well, so we're very thankful to those agencies as well as the citizens of the township who helped out,” said Hillock.

Hillock added that this sense of community spirit is the only way to get through the tough weather.

"People are very resilient here in the U.P., and just band together in a time like this,” he said.

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