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Strong winds rip area

November 20, 2013 - Brandon Twp.- Sometime between 9 p.m. Sunday and early Monday morning, more than 160 years of township history came crashing down with the collapse of Midge Stewart's barn.

"It was thought to be the oldest barn in the township," said Stewart, owner of Maple Lane Kennels, 2939 Hummer Lake Road. "On Sunday when the storm was bearing down on mid-Michigan, I worried the old barn might not make it—the wood inside was exposed and we were picking up shingles. The kennel was not damaged in the storm, but the old barn is in a heap."

Stewart's historic barn was just one of thousands impacted by a major wind storm that blew through last weekend.

Statewide, about 172,000 Consumers Energy electric customers were without service as of 9 p.m. from Sunday and Monday's storms which included winds topping 60 mph.

"All of our areas are on 24-hour operations, working through the night to assess damage, secure down wires and restore power safely for our cus-tomers," said Mary Palkovich, Consumers Energy vice-president of energy delivery. "We have utility crews from eight different states supporting our restoration efforts."

From Nov. 17-18 there were 331calls dispatched for weather-related issues including power lines down, road hazards and alarms by the Oakland County Sheriff's Office Communications Center in 15 communities, which included 18 in the Village of Ortonville and Brandon Township.

Similarly, Brandon Fire Department responded to 23 weather-related calls during the same time.

Groveland Township resident Arlene Willoughby said Mother Nature assisted in clearing out some dead trees near her home on North Van Road..

"On Sunday night trees were falling everywhere," said Willoughby, a 24-year township resident. "A large pine tree had fallen over our driveway and we needed to get out. In the darkness I was running a chainsaw when I saw the Groveland Township Fire Department clearing a tree that was blocking Van Road. They took the time to cut the pine tree and help get me out of my driveway. I'm just so thankful for their assistance to get out of our driveway. I had a seizure a few years ago, you just never know."

DTE officials said that Sunday's storm is the largest storm DTE Energy has experienced this year and one of the largest in the last decade. Gusts of up to 70 mph were tracked in the area, sweeping large branches, and in many cases, entire trees, into power lines. DTE crews and contractors are working 16-hour shifts around the clock to restore power. On Wednesday, more than 100 crews—from as far away as Colorado and Pennsylvania—are expected to start assisting with restoration efforts.

While clean up after the storm will continue, Stewart's 1847 barn is beyond repair.

According to the Michigan State Tax Commission WPA Survey records, the Hummer Lake barn was built in 1847 on the homestead of James and Mahala Everett, who were married in 1844. The couple was recorded on the 1850 township census. The barn was described as having a stone foundation, gable roof with wood shingles, wood floors, three windows and rough lumber exterior. According to township maps, the barn and adjacent home had several occupants over the years including the Everetts, F.J. McRae (1925), CC Corey and Lillian Corey (1930-77); Hank Podell (1978-2007), and currently Midge Stewart.

"The saw marks and even some of the bark from the trees that were used during construction is still visible," said Stewart. "I'll try to keep some of the barn wood and perhaps the Ortonville Historical Society will be interested in its preservation."

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