The Detroit News
Published 2:43 PM EDT Jul 21, 2019
What should’ve been a festive night for Scott Golem, 35, celebrating his fiancee Rachel Boese’s 35th birthday at Supino’s pizza in Eastern Market, ended early with a troubling phone call: “A tree fell onto your house.”
That was about 7 p.m. Saturday.
Golem’s home, on the 700 block of N. Melborn, on Dearborn’s west side, had already lost power by the time he and Boese, who he’ll marry in November, left for Detroit.
They cut the trip short without placing an order or eating a slice and arrived to find the tree on their front yard leaning against the black roof of their home.
“We were glad the dogs were OK and the damage is minimal, for what it could’ve been” Golem said Sunday.
The folks on N. Melborn are just a few of the 390,000 DTE Energy customers without power as of early Sunday afternoon. Another 220,000 Consumers Energy customers outstate are without power, bringing the total to 610,000.
That second floor is where dogs Fiona, 7, and Lola, 3, stay, Golem said. But the dogs were not only unhurt when the tree fell, they were unbothered by the heat, he said.
“Because they don’t have hair,” Golem explained of his dogs, who are both American hairless terriers. “They sleep upstairs. So we were glad the tree didn’t fall through the roof, like we were told it did. It didn’t really look like they cared. We were worried, they weren’t.”
A crew from the city of Dearborn had cut down and removed the fallen tree by about 9 a.m., Golem said, leaving only the uprooted trunk behind. A neighbor’s car had been parked on the curb near the tree, but it broke toward the home rather than the street.
By early Sunday afternoon, having been without power for more than 18 hours, and with relief on that side of the street not expected until Tuesday — somehow, the odd-numbered side of the street never lost power — Golem was considering whether to buy a generator, or to see if his parents had one he could borrow.
Golem’s next-door neighbors, Mike Bazzi, 34, and Emilee Earhart, 27, benefited from the kindness of across-the-street neighbors, who let them borrow a generator Sunday. In their three years at the home, they’d never lost power until Saturday.
“We slept here last night,” Earhart said. “It wasn’t fun. Our options are limited because we have a dog, so we couldn’t go many places.”
“She fell asleep fairly quickly,” Bazzi said. He did not, only able to rest after his phone ran out of power at about 2:30 a.m. “I kept checking on (updates on power restoration from DTE) until my power died. Then all hope was gone, so I went to sleep.”
The couple believed they’d have power restored by now, after being given an estimate of 11:30 p.m. But 11:30 came and went, and the power never came back. As of Sunday afternoon, there was no estimate.
By early Sunday afternoon, Bazzi was set to play golf, while Earhart and dog Alexa were headed up the street to a friend’s air-conditioned home to beat the heat.
This weekend, Southeast Michigan was gripped by a mixture of high heat and severe storms that knocked out power for more than half-a-million people, more than 6 percent of the state’s population.
But both sturm and drang subsided Sunday, as high temperatures are only expected to reach the low to mid-80s, and Sunday afternoon has only a 30 percent chance of precipitation. The expected high, 83 degrees, is in line with the average high for July, which is Detroit’s hottest month.
On Saturday, the Detroit-area matched its high temperature for July 20, 97 degrees. The earlier 97-degree day was in 1977.
Going into Sunday, the average high for July 2019 was 88.3 degrees, about five degrees warmer than July’s historical high in Detroit, 83.4. Monday, with an expected high of 78 degrees, is projected to be the first day of July 2019 with a high below 80.
On Dearborn’s east side, near its border with Detroit’s west side, a tree fell into the roadway Saturday night on the 10400 block of Bertram, a quiet residential street.
“Immediately, I called 911 and it patched me through to Detroit, because I’m so close,” said Mohamed Ali Sabra, 44, a Dearborn resident and science teacher at Fordson High School. “I got a recording — please hold. So I hang up and called the city itself. They didn’t get anybody out here until about 10:30 at night,” about two hours after the tree fell.
For a time, Sabra said he placed white lawn chairs in the street to block off the tree, so motorists traveling in the dark would know to avoid it.
A crew did arrive, but was unable to do much, Sabra said.
“My chainsaw was as big as his,” Sabra said. “If I could’ve done that, I would’ve chopped it up and put it on the side of my house.”
The fallen tree blocked traffic well into the day Sunday. His welcome to the neighborhood came during the Great Flood of 2014.
“The day I bought my house was the day of the storm and the day my house got flooded,” he said.
Saturday’s storm was mild by comparison.
“This could’ve been way worse,” Sabra said. Had the tree fallen in the other direction, he noted, it likely would’ve taken out a power line and multiple vehicles.
Falling into the street blocked off thru traffic, but ultimately no one was hurt or forced to go without power on the hottest day of the year.
DTE Energy says it hopes to have 150,000 customers’ power restored by the end of the day Sunday, another 150,000 by the end of the day Monday, and everybody’s power back Wednesday.
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