Pastors team up with DTE to canvass neighborhoods, connect homeowners with warming centers

Posted at 6:32 PM, Mar 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-11 23:16:40-05

No amount of Saturday could bring relief to cold households without power throughout metro Detroit.

On Saturday pastors teamed up with DTE to go door-to-door near Mansfield-Diversey Park where hundreds of homeowners are without power, many of those homeowners elderly or in need of heat due to health reasons.

“It’s hard,” explained Almarie Williams, an older woman with four kids and two adults living inside her home without heat. “I’ve been keeping the oven on and boiling water.”

Williams noted that she knows it’s not safe to heat her home with her oven, but she felt like she didn’t have any other choice. With terribly cold temperatures outside, and young children inside she couldn’t sleep through the night. She told 7 Action News that she woke up in the middle of the night and put a chair near the oven and kept an eye on it while she intermittently turned it on to make sure the children were comfortable.

“I was hoping (the power) was going to come on today,” said Williams, “because a lot of my friends don’t have power either.”

Reverend Wendell Anthony was one of the volunteers who stopped at Williams house and tried to convince her to come to a warming center that is currently open. He said if she didn’t have a ride his church would make arrangements to get her and the kids there.

“The bottom line is we need to work on this together,” said Reverend Anthony. “For some people this is a life or death situation, and for some people; especially older people, they don’t want to leave their homes.”

A handful of people admitted they wouldn’t leave their homes. Despite the cold, and bad conditions inside their homes, they noted that they didn’t feel comfortable leaving their homes without someone to look over there things. It’s an uphill battle, which is why volunteers spent Saturday trying to convince people to play it safe.

“You’re cold, and I’m cold, so I know they’re cold inside the house,” said Anthony.

It’s a problem that’s playing out throughout the city of Detroit, and beyond.

According to DTE, this week’s outage is the largest single weather event in the company’s history. To put thing into perspective, a normal storm triggers up to 50,000 outages. The storm that rolled through the metro on Wednesday led to more than 800,000 outages, roughly 9,000 wires were knocked down.

While most would rather their power be turned back on, Rev. Anthony said he’s still getting a positive reaction from homeowners who are happy to hear that warming centers remain open, especially given the cold night that’s expected.

“The overall response is good,” said Rev. Anthony. “A lot of people are saying, ‘I’m glad somebody is concerned, and someone is thinking about me beyond this situation.’”