Emergency crews prepare for storms and potentially damaging overnight winds

NOW: Emergency crews prepare for storms and potentially damaging overnight winds

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Officials are encouraging residents to take steps to prepare for potentially damaging wind speeds expected from approaching storms on Dec. 15.

"We have an incredibly reliable grid," We Energies spokesperson Brendan Conway told CBS 58. "But if we're going to see 60, 70 mile per hour winds, there's a good chance that there could be some power outages."

One way to prevent outages, We Energies says, is to secure Christmas decorations in people's yards so they are less likely to be lifted off the ground by the wind and potentially hit a power line, causing a power outage.

"If you have Christmas lights and Christmas inflatables, maybe not even just put them down, but tie them down or put them away if it's not really tied down or secured very well, "Conway said. "And anything that's in the air can come into contact with a powerline and cause an outage."

We Energies said they took a proactive approach in boosting personnel for potential damage.

"We have contract crews that we are already planning to bring in early tomorrow morning, so some of it is staffing," Conway said. "The other thing is to just making sure, checking with all the areas, do you have enough transformers, do you need any more poles, do you need any more wires? And if not, moving those things around."

The utility company is coming off a historic power restoration effort from this summer but noted that Wednesday's storms offered a unique challenge other storms normally don't pose.

"This storm is so wide that we just want to have people everywhere," Conway said. "Sometimes with these storms we know it's going to hit a certain area and we can just move resources there. This one right now, it's so wide, what we have to do is be prepared everywhere and we do."

We Energies added people should have an emergency kit ready in the event of an outage with flashlights, portable phone chargers, blankets  and other equipment. People can also download the We Energies app to check outage maps and report an outage.

You can find the app HERE.

People are also encouraged to have their account number available to share when they report an outage so crews are able to more quickly arrive to fix the issue.

City leaders are also urging the public to take precautions during Wednesday night's wind storm.

If you call the city to report a weather-related issue like a malfunctioning traffic light, your call will be routed to the city's Emergency Operations Center.

Arborists are also on standby.

"It's coming in now so it's gonna be a long night," said Kory Davis of Hidden Valley Tree Service in Brookfield.

"We've got everything gassed up, ready to go, I've got two crews on standby waiting for emergency services," said Davis.

Davis says if large branches fall on your property, there's a good reason you might want to pay an arborist to take care of it.

"You can get somebody that's a professional to come out and actually analyze the trees to look for stuff that you might not notice," said Davis.

Davis says if you have some dead branches, better to take care of it now rather than later.

"You should have them trimmed every few years anyway, just for nights like tonight to thin them out. Allows that wind to circulate through the trees, less breakages. It's much healthier for the trees to trim them, too, to get that dead stuff up out of there."

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