City failed miserably to protect residents from downed power lines during windy, icy night

lighting department

lighting department1On one of the windiest, iciest nights in Detroit in over a year, the city had just one Public Lighting Department crew overnight to handle countless downed, sparking power lines and fallen street lights spread across 139 square miles.

The crew stood no chance against an ice and snow storm that wreaked havoc on the city’s aging, frail system.

As downed power lines sparked and whipped around in the wind, firefighters on a busy night were forced to watch over the dangerous wires for hours until the crew arrived.

This afternoon, dozens of arcing power lines and downed street lights remained unattended.

The city’s lighting system is a mess and costs taxpayers more than $10 million a year to operate. To fix the problem, city officials recently approved the creation of a new lighting authority that will draft a three-year plan to replace streetlights and improve the department.

Detroit provides electricity to many of its 88,000 streetlights and dozens of office buildings and lofts. DTE Energy is the city’s other power provider.

We are awaiting a response from Mayor Dave Bing’s office.

Got tips or suggestions? Contact Steve atsneavling@gmail.com.

Steve Neavling is an investigative journalist, a freelance reporter for Reuters and former city hall reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Living on the city’s east side, Neavling explores corruption andthe underbelly of an oft-misunderstood city.

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.