640,000 Michiganders left in the cold & dark turn to hotels, warming centers after brutal ice storm causes major power outages

 residents without power are heading to warming centers set up around Metro Detroit where local authorities and volunteers are working to provide some relief, such as hot food, electric outlets and a warm place to sleep.
Photo credit WWJ's Cassandra Llamas-Fossen

METRO DETROIT (WWJ) - DTE Energy crews continue efforts to restore power to homes and businesses across Metro Detroit with the goal of having most of their 461,376 customers affected by outages resorted by Sunday.

But patience is running out two days after a historic ice storm struck Southeast Michigan as residents face below freezing temperatures and no lights on Friday morning.

In a 7 a.m. update, DTE president and COO Trevor Lauer, said utility crews having been working tirelessly to get power up and running since freezing rain left behind a heavy coat of ice that brought down trees and over 3.2000 power lines.

Consumer's Energy reports 176,264 of their customers are affected by outages, bringing the total amount of Michiganders without power to 638,123.

WWJ"s Charlie Langton reported live from Warren at the America's Best Inn in the 10 Mile and Dequindre area, were hotels were booked up with people searching for warmth and comfort.

That is if people can even find a vacant room, which Langton said is proving very challenging.

"The people that are in the hotels, those are the lucky ones," Langton said, "because it's very difficult to find a hotel."

Langton spoke to residents Sierra and Eric who have been looking for a hotel room since they lost power on Wednesday at their home in the 7 Mile and Livernois area of Detroit.

The couple have three children, including a 2-month-old, and haven't had any luck.

"We've have been all over Michigan, dang near like, and it's like, yeah, it's all filled up," Sierra told Langton.

"At least in Detroit," Eric chimed in. "We're tired. We have kids, we just, we just tired right now. We've been riding for like since 11 o'clock."

Langton said he spoke to the manager at America's Best Inn, but was told they had no rooms available. When he went down the road to the Red Roof Inn, Langton was greeted by a handwritten sign at the front desk that read "sold out."

"You can't get a room!" Langton reported.

Other residents without power are heading to warming centers set up around Metro Detroit where local authorities and volunteers are working to provide some relief, such as hot food, electric outlets and a warm place to sleep.

WWJ's Mike Campbell checked out a warming center at Benny Elementary School on Champagne, just west of Allen Road in Allen Park, where teachers, custodians and police banded together to keep the school's gym and cafeteria open to residents.

"[It's being used] as cell phone and other electronic charging center and they also have movies on the big screen TV," Campbell reported.

Robin Partridges, the building engineer, told Campbell they decided to open the school because it was the "right thing" to do.

"We have a large screen TV with Disney Plus for the kids, a gym that they can sleep or play basketball. We're pretty much self-contained," Partridges said.

The school sits across the street from a neighborhood that does not appear to have power. When asked by Campbell how the school had power but the homes around it did not, she answered "God has a plan."

Campbell said they are going to keep the building open until residents have their power restored. Partidges said they had about 20 people stay on Thursday night.

"It's warm inside, I can tell you that," Campbell said.

Other warming centers around Metro Detroit include:

Plymouth Township

• Northridge Church (open now) located at 49555 N Territorial Rd in Plymouth Charter Twp.

• St. Kenneth Church (open now) located at 14951 N Haggerty Rd in Plymouth.

Royal Oak

• The warming center is open at the Jack and Patti Salter Community Center located at the 1545 E. Lincoln in Royal Oak.

• The current hours for the warming center will be as follows:

Thursday, Feb. 23 1 p.m.-1 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 24 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 25: 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Washtenaw County

Along with the American Red Cross, Washtenaw County will open an overnight warming center beginning Thursday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m.

• The center will operate out of the Eagle Crest Conference Center located at 1275 S. Huron St. in Ypsilanti Township.

• The Center will be open until 8 a.m. for anyone in need of a warm, safe place for the night.

Ann Arbor

The City of Ann Arbor has opened two overnight warming centers:

• Northside Community Center, 809 Taylor St., is open now until 6 p.m. tomorrow, Feb. 24.

• The Ann Arbor District Library Westgate Branch, 2503 Jackson Road, is open until 11 p.m. tomorrow, Feb. 24. More nights may be added if volunteer capacity allows for it.

Featured Image Photo Credit: WWJ's Cassandra Llamas-Fossen