Heavy winds during a July 7 storm caused trees to topple onto a parked vehicle on East Windemere Avenue, just east of Glendale Avenue, which is near 13 Mile and Rochester roads in Royal Oak.

Heavy winds during a July 7 storm caused trees to topple onto a parked vehicle on East Windemere Avenue, just east of Glendale Avenue, which is near 13 Mile and Rochester roads in Royal Oak.

Photo provided by Lt. Al Carter, of the Royal Oak Police Department

Storm cell fells trees, cuts power in Royal Oak

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published July 8, 2020


ROYAL OAK/CLAWSON — A fast and furious storm hit a portion of Royal Oak July 7.

As a result of high winds and torrential downpours, the city saw some flooding and many large trees either uprooted or having lost branches, which fell on power lines and caused power outages.

As of July 8, more than 4,700 DTE Energy customers remained without power. The energy company hoped to have its customers back online by 11:30 p.m., according to city officials.

At least one tree fell on a parked vehicle, but no injuries were reported.

The Royal Oak Department of Public Service and J.H. Hart Urban Forestry were working to clear public rights of way, as of the afternoon July 8. Work crews removed eight massive trees that were blocking roadways, and the DPS estimated that it would take a couple of days to remove all of the downed trees, according to city officials.

Lt. Al Carter, of the Royal Oak Police Department, said police received approximately 125 calls to 911 in an approximately four-hour window of time.

“A lot of people were alerting us to the trees that fell and the downed lines,” Carter said.

A Royal Oak resident, Carter said his home lost power and remained without power as of 4 p.m. July 8.

“There’s a lot of older trees in our area. We had four trees that fell down in the 12 Mile and Rochester area that took out a lot of wires, but by the grace of God, we didn’t have any injuries,” he said.

Assistant Fire Chief Jim Cook said the storm primarily hit one pocket of Royal Oak, from 12 Mile Road north and east of Crooks Road.

“We get those through the years. I can’t tell you how many times we get little micro, 12-block radius (storms),” Cook said. “Trees blow over and it’s crazy, and then two blocks outside (of the storm), it looks like nothing happened.”

He said the Fire Department went on approximately 45-50 runs during the storm and 71 runs the day after.

“There were no fires, just wires down, wires down, wires down,” Cook said. “These branches all fall down on the wires and bring the wires down. We did have one of the telephone poles kind of shear in half. I assume that it was hit by a tree.”

The Fire Department notifies DTE of all reported downed wires and, depending where they are, will guard the scene to make sure nobody encounters them.

“There isn’t a hell of a lot we can do. We don’t touch them, obviously. We wait for DTE and they come out with a crew,” he said. “A lot of times, they just cut the wire so it stays up near the pole and isn’t a hazard on the ground.”

He said DTE used to send crews out, but now, in order to increase response times, DTE sends out any personnel in the office in a car with a light to sit there in order to free up the Fire Department to go somewhere else.

“We only have so many trucks,” he said. “Today, all three fire stations have been doing follow-ups almost all day.”

If the downed line is near a structure, he said, firefighters monitor it so that if it does start a fire, they can spray water in its general direction until DTE crews arrive.

Clawson Fire Chief Troy Engel said Clawson saw some heavy winds for a short period of time, and that some residents experienced intermittent power outages.

“A tree went down, and we had a big branch take out a service drop for a house on Massoit (Road),” he said.

Clawson Police Chief Scott Sarvello said that despite some short power outages, the storm did “no real damage” in Clawson.