Mother Nature shows her way leaving devastation behind
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Hastings, MI- As I drove north to Lowell through the Barry County farmlands on Wednesday, 54-mile wind gusts were throwing the small orange Dart across the country road. Broken limbs and twigs were hitting the dancing car in the wind.
The forecast didn’t sound as bad as it was, otherwise I would have stayed at the “Pala fortress” near the Yankee Springs Recreation Area.
We stationed ourselves at the “fortress” for a week-long stint last Saturday to watch the grand kids. Our son Jake with wife Maranda took off to Bali, Indonesia to celebrate his 30th birthday.
Early spring storms in the Midwest on the Great Lakes can be vicious with freezing rain and power outages lasting for days. These however make for beautiful waves and vistas on the nearby Lake Michigan.
Above photos of the March 8th storm damage in the Lowell area are by Amanda Schrauben of Lowell.
The featured photo by Bob Walma shows waves sweeping over the Grand Haven lighthouse on Wednesday. The pier and the boardwalk were completely covered by water all day, according to friends living in Grand Haven.
Right off the bat near Hastings, the traffic lights swaying in the wind went out. I was holding on tight to the steering wheel to keep the car on the road.
When I got out of the car at a gas station on the I-96 freeway, I almost got swept away. The wind picked up grains of sand and whipped them into my face.
The weekly meeting was cancelled due to power outage, and I couldn’t get to my home base Lowell office because a tree had fallen into the roadway.
“The office is closed, they have no power,” a friend hollered into the wind.
Neighbor Catherine had already reported a power outage on Tuesday, with the new one on its way. To make things worse, the forecast called for more freezing temperatures overnight, and we did not have the house in Lowell wintered for another freezing spell.
I finished the International Women’s Day post “Be Bold for Change” at the Lowell KDL library yesterday, one of few places left in the area that still had the Internet.
I drove back to Hastings in worsening conditions, wondering if I should turn back, but I had nowhere to go, since the power was out at the Lowell home as well.
Some roads were completely blocked with trees in the way. When I finally got to the “fortress”, I couldn’t open the garage door, so I knew the power was out here as well, some 50 miles down south from home.
Moreover, the Consumers predicted that the power in both places, at the Hastings fortress and at the Lowell home, would be out until Saturday.
“I got to go back to Lowell to get the generator,” husband Ludek snapped angrily at me, because our lines of communication went bad, and we missed each other’s calls.
“Why doesn’t Jake have a generator here in this Hicksville, anyways?”
Probably for the same reason we didn’t have one for 10 years at the Lowell home, until the April freezing rain in 2002 knocked out the power for five days. That year, we almost froze to death.
Back in Lowell on Downes Road, Ludek and other neighbors couldn’t get to the houses because of fallen wires across the roads, and a fire truck blocking the way.
Ludek pioneered the way to the houses using the neighbor’s backyards, in spite of complaints.
“Hey, you can’t walk across that wire,” yelled a firefighter at this relentless man.
Swearing, Ludek loaded the generator, let the water out of the pipes, and headed back to Hastings.
Meanwhile, the kids and I were eating cold meatloaf with mashed potatoes just as the lights went back on.
“Why did they say the power wasn’t going to be up until Saturday?” Ludek continued to swear at Consumers as he made his grand entrance.
“You live in the boondocks,” I said. “You gotta have a generator.”
Luckily, we made it out alive and with roofs over our heads at both places, cars and garages intact. Ludek reported a semi-truck knocked on the side by the Caledonia exit off the I-96 freeway.
This morning at the Hastings Library, I went through the Facebook reports from friends in Lowell.
“I am cold,” neighbor Catherine wrote. “No power until Saturday, please don’t let that be true.”
The local Meijer store had no electricity but stayed open. There were even waves on the tiny Stoney Lake.
The wind gusts uprooted trees, knocked down roofs, sidings, glass doors and created havoc across Michigan. Close to 600, 000 people were left without power.
“Thousands of people are without power,” said the Consumers recorded message last night. “We have no more restoration information.”
It was one of the biggest storms in the last 25 years, according to meteorologists.
There are several upsides to this windstorm of 2017, such as that I get to know my local libraries.
Yes, kids. March is the reading month. And libraries are very cool. Visit them always, not just during storms. They are here for us to embrace for work and for fun.
Thank you Hastings and Lowell libraries for staying open.
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