WASHINGTON – Dozens of local contractors experienced a white Christmas — just not the kind they probably dreamed about.
An ice storm hit the upper Midwest right before Christmas, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of customers.
Overwhelmed, power companies called for backup.
“This was our worst holiday storm ever in our 126 year history,” says Debra Dodd, a spokesperson for Consumers Energy in Michigan.
Contractors from the District and Maryland – ordinarily employed by PEPCO, Baltimore Gas & Electric and Potomac Edison – joined crews from ten other states in the effort.
Responding to the untimely blast of winter meant leaving their families for Christmas.
“I can’t tell you how much we appreciate them answering the call when we asked for help,” Dodd says.
She noted one personal story of a worker who left 27 people at his home to travel to Michigan.
Most crews from out of state arrived by 5 a.m. Christmas morning. Because of widespread damage in that part of the country, contractors from as far away as South Carolina had to be called.
As of early Thursday morning, Consumers Energy reported “good progress,” but more than 100,000 customers in Michigan remained without power.
“Nothing has melted off the lines or trees, so it’s making it very difficult for restoration,” Dodd says.
Crews from the District and Maryland are working in Flint, Lansing and Hastings, Mich.
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Seven are dead and people are still being found and rescued after historic rainfall.