Calhoun County takes steps to prepare for the next big storm

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CALHOUN COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – In March, a wind storm tore through Michigan, catching many off guard and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of homes.

As Severe Weather Preparedness Week gets underway, Calhoun County is taking steps to make sure everyone is ready for the next big storm.

It may still be early spring, but West Michigan has already seen severe weather and on Tuesday night, officials in Calhoun County gathered to lay out a plan and make sure everyone is on the same page for the next weather emergency.

It’s been five weeks since powerful storms battered Calhoun County.

“I think it was kind of a wakeup call,” said Durk Dunham, Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Director, “winter is coming to an end and now we have something else we have to pay attention to, and that is severe weather.”

Mother Nature downing trees, destroying homes, and leaving thousands without power, people like John Wagner.

“When the power went out about five o’clock, I put the wood burner to work, I went through that night without power,” said Wagner.

Since the March 8th storm, Pennfield Charter Township Supervisor Dave Morgan and other community leaders have been grappling with how to lay out an emergency response plan.

“Now we are trying to become prepared for the future, bring everything together that we’ve learned to make the next weather-related incident much less devastating than the last,” said Morgan.

It’s a collective effort that prompted dozens to show up to Pennfield High School on Tuesday night.

The fire department, Consumers Energy, and the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office were among the organization and agencies providing tips and presenting strategies to keep residents safe.

Dunham says understanding the threat of severe weather and knowing what to do is key.

“You never know what kind of season you are going to have,” said Dunham, “but I can tell you, when we hit April each year, the first thing on my mind is assessing the possibilities and trying to mitigate the risks.”

Officials say 85 percent of the homes in the path of the storm were damaged last month and some people are still picking up the pieces. Still, most of those Newschannel 3 spoke to say they are grateful that no one was seriously hurt and they feel residents will be better prepared should another storm strike.

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