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Whitmer tours storm damage in Okemos

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Kevin Lavery / WKAR
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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer meets with utility crews in Okemos who worked to restore power to hundreds of thousands of customers across the state.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer met with utility crews in mid-Michigan Thursday as they restored power in the wake of severe storms that hit the state this week.

The governor toured a Consumers Energy substation in Okemos, not far from a partially submerged playground along the rain-swollen Red Cedar River.

The utility said it was on pace to restore power to about 100,000 customers Thursday, with more than 200,000 restorations expected by the end of the weekend.

Gov. Whitmer noted that the heavy rains from the storms even flooded the basement of the official residence.

“I’m not complaining or comparing my situation to others; there are many who are stressed out and exhausted from this,” Whitmer said. “We’re going to do everything we can to help keep people safe and help them recover.”

CMS Energy and Consumers CEO Garrick Rochow said crews are coming to help from across the country.

“We’ve got 450 crews and they’re from all different states,” said Rochow. “They’re out of Missouri, New York, Tennessee…they’re here in Michigan, there’s more coming in. That gives me a lot of optimism about our restoration progress today and into Friday.”

Consumers Energy says this week’s storms rank among the 10 most severe outage incidents from a single weather event in the utility’s history.

Whitmer said as climate change produces more severe weather more frequently, it’s important for Michigan to rebuild its infrastructure to withstand it.

Kevin Lavery has been news director at WKAR since September 2006.