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'An ongoing issue': Frustration grows after outages close 5 Ann Arbor schools on first day

Posted at 5:47 PM, Aug 28, 2023

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — Power outages are impacting the first day of school in Ann Arbor, and some parents are growing frustrated.

On any other beautiful August day, Samantha McCully would love nothing more than to watch her kids play basketball in the driveway. But Monday was not that day.

“We got out their school clothes, lunches ready, everything was ready to go and then surprise — you're not going to school tomorrow,” McCully said.

McCully’s two kids go to Forsythe Middle School and Wines Elementary School, which were two of five Ann Arbor schools closed on the first day thanks to power outages and storm damage.

"I was pretty bummed out for the boys,” McCully said. "I felt like they were just being left behind and missing out on something important.”

While the boys may have enjoyed the extra day of summer, McCully is frustrated about the loss of power. Not only are the schools closed, but the street that leads to her son's middle school also remained closed Monday, as crews were out fixing telecommunication lines that came down four days ago.

“There’s a couple areas of town where there’s been significant damage,” Andrew Cluley, a spokesperson for Ann Arbor Public Schools, said.

The district says the impact from the damage and extended outages has been significant. While power has been restored at many Ann Arbor schools, Cluley says it takes time to get the buildings ready and to replace the spoiled food they had to throw out.

“Even once the power comes back on, we have to make sure we bring the internet back in to get all the other systems back online,” Cluley said.

In a statement, DTE said they restored power to nearly all the schools in Ann Arbor by end of day Sunday and restored the final school Monday morning, saying in part “We know how important it is for schools to have the power they need to resume classes. That’s why we prioritized restoring area schools, including those in Ann Arbor, following last week’s back-to-back extreme weather events.“

But for McCully, if the outage was a one-time thing she says she would be more understanding. However, in the decades she’s lived in Ann Arbor, she says the outages have been frequent, long lasting and only getting worse. She’s hoping not just for a quick fix but for a long term solution.

“Over the last 10 years, we have anywhere between eight to 12 outages per year,” McCully said. “When you're having that many issues, I think it’s time to band together, figure out what the issues are and figure out a way to fix it.”