Ice storm leaves many in Kalamazoo with fallen trees and no power

10+year+old+Kaelem+Helms+spending+his+morning+off+of+school+cleaning+up+brush%2C+left+around+his+house+after+the+ice+storm.

Credit: Cavan Helms

10 year old Kaelem Helms spending his morning off of school cleaning up brush, left around his house after the ice storm.

Cavan Helms, Sports Team

On Thursday, Feb. 23, around 12:30 a.m., I was watching a show in my bed when I heard a loud crash. As I went outside with my dad, I realized our tree was split down the middle and was scattered around our backyard. We then walked to the front of our house and saw that many of our neighbors were experiencing the same thing. Every five seconds we would hear a crack and then a boom as trees broke and slammed on to the ground and for some, onto houses, fences and garages. 

Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) students were absent from school through Wednesday-Friday during the week of Feb. 20, because of the ice storm. Some KPS students as well as many Kalamazoo residents have been without power and internet for multiple days. The energy company,  Consumers Energy, has estimated some won’t have power back until Tuesday, February 28. Fortunately, some residents are lucky enough to be able to have someone come over and help them promptly. One of the companies that helped out are JRC Builders. 

JRC Builders  is owned by 41 year old Kalamazoo resident, James Clement. In his free time, after the ice storm, he and co-workers went around the Westnedge Hill neighborhood and helped clean up debris from the fallen trees, patch up houses, remove downed lines and restore power to many homes.

“A lot of the trees got a little too heavy. Branches fell on the power lines and stuff, so we had to get people’s power up and going again. There was a couple holes in some roofs, likewise [we] patched the roofs and pulled the branches out,” said Clement. 

“Then we got a guy going back up cause his powers been off for 2 days now, so his wireline started freezing up, so we patched those up for him real quick and got a generator going,” said Clement.

Kalamazoo county leaders issued a state of emergency due to the damages being placed on the city. Not only were citizen’s homes and properties damaged, but public and government infrastructure as well. Consumers Energy employees, city workers and public service workers have been working around the clock to restore the city. 

Landscaping companies have already started to come and collect all the brush residents have pulled to the street. This is one of the worst storms to happen to the city in the past decade, but something similar happened to a nearby city, Battle Creek, many years ago.

“So it was probably about 20 years ago, I was probably about 20 years old and we had the same thing happen over there in Battle Creek. It was a bad ice storm, a lot of branches breaking, falling everywhere,” Clement continued ¨We went out tarping roofs off, getting branches off them, but yeah, a lot of bad roof damage from that for sure.”.

At times like these citizens of Kalamazoo need to work together to restore the once clean streets and conditions of the city. 

On Thursday, Feb. 23,  the Red Cross opened a 24/7 shelter providing warmth, food and water for people in need during these terrible times. At the time of writing, it is Sunday, February 26th, and many are regaining power and roads are being cleaned. The city should be fully back on track in a matter of days.