American Electric Power reported close to 9,000 Buchanan customers without power Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, a far greater number than those reported for surrounding cities.
Perhaps the most significant number, though, was the number of residents who actually lost their homes in the night when overwhelming damage to the Buchanan Place Apartments caused nine tenants to lose their apartments. (Three additional vacant apartments were also destroyed.)
"The apartment building lost its roof - you could see the sky," said Sergeant J.T. Adkerson of the Buchanan Police Department, who also noted that the Jesse Law Office suffered the same fate when its roof apparently blew into the corner of the city hall parking lot.
"I'd guess the insurance claims around town will probably total close to a million dollars," Adkerson said, adding that the destruction of so many long-standing trees has also been a major loss for the community.
The night of the storm, many of the department's officers were called into work and spent the night "making sure that the wires that were down were safe," he said.
Officers secured downed lines "as best they could" and made a list of line locations for AEP.
Adkerson went on to say that Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey "came down to Buchanan that night, offering assistance to the emergency response teams" and helping the newly-homeless residents "find a place to go."
The Red Cross was also immediately involved, he said.
The storm caused significant damage in Niles as well, closing off roads with downed trees, damaging homes, keeping crews out all night securing power lines and, as in Buchanan, making lasting changes in the landscape of the community in tearing up and uprooting so many of the trees that have long contributed to the beauty of the homes and public spaces in both communities.
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