Michiana braces for the storm, preps for possible power outages

NOW: Michiana braces for the storm, preps for possible power outages

NILES, Mich.-- An arctic blast approaches, just days away, and Niles residents are doing what they can to prepare for the possibility of losing power.

"I haven't really done too much. I'll gas up the vehicles, make sure the generator's got gas," said Robert Pockrandt

For Debra Jernigan, past storms better prepared her for what's to come this week.

"It's kind of why i got a gas fireplace, so i don't have to worry about losing power and losing heat," Jernigan said.

She said she hopes her neighbors are bracing for the storm.

"I'm hoping they're a lot more prepared than they have been in the past," she said.

"I don't know if a lot of people are prepared," said Pockrandt. "But it's not a real common thing, so, with all the forewarning, I think people might be prepared more."

Meanwhile, Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) is mobilizing its Incident Command System, only activated during major storms.

"With this being such a strong storm, this is something that we take very, very seriously," said Corey Ohlankamp, communications representative for I&M. "I mean it in every sense that people need to plan ahead."

He said he expects the entire Michiana region will be hit the hardest by the storm.

"This is possibly one of the strongest storms we've seen in a number of years here," Ohlankamp said. "It also is kind of a perfect storm for anything that can damage our power infrastructure."

He says it is imperative to closely monitor the weather forecasts, and to know where warming centers are located.

"If we're looking at a potential for a multi-day outage, you need to have a backup plan. Especially if you're reliant on medical devices," he said.

Michiana residents still have some time to get together an emergency kit, which Ohlankamp says is critical.

"This includes blankets, water, nonperishable food, battery operated or a hand-crank radio with extra batteries, don't forget about any medications that you might need, make sure your cell phones are charged up," he said.

He said restoration times for power outages nearly double in severe winter weather. For the most accurate estimate for when power will come back on in case of an outage, Ohlankamp recommends downloading the I&M mobile app.

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