Complicating their efforts, however, are expected wind gusts of about 20 mph in some places, which could bring down more tree limbs.
Across the border in Canada, Toronto officials said 90,000 customers were without power Tuesday — down from 300,000 at the height of the outages.
In Michigan, Jackson-based Consumers Energy — the state’s largest utility — said it hadn’t had this many outages during any Christmas week in its 126-year history. Close to 17 percent of its 1.8 million electric customers lost power during the storm that hit late Saturday; roughly 129,000 remained without it Wednesday morning.
Ken Fuller runs a generator repair shop in Lansing, Mich., where more than 13,000 people were without power a day earlier. He typically closes by noon on Christmas Eve, but at 12:30 p.m. he was cleaning out a broken generator’s carburetor — and had five more waiting to be serviced.
“The temperature outside is 15 to 20 degrees,” Fuller said. “Christmas is going to have to take second fiddle right now because houses are getting cold, freezing water pipes.”
That was the concern that John Potbury and his family faced outside Flint. They lost electricity at 6 a.m. Sunday and have been living in a single bedroom warmed by generator-powered space heaters. The lights on their tree, of course were dark.
“Even though the house is freezing cold, the freezer items were starting to thaw out,” Potbury said.
But Potbury’s kids, 8-year-old Jacob and 5-year-old Jackson, kept things in perspective, telling their dad Tuesday that “Santa runs on reindeer power, not electricity, so he should be OK.”