LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Last week’s deadly storms were the “single biggest natural disaster” the Lansing Board of Water and Light has “ever had to respond to.”

That’s what BWL General Manager Dick Peffley tells the Lansing City Council.

At the height of the crisis, more than 35,000 people in the service area were without power. But Peffley says 80 percent of those customers had their power back within 72 hours. About 3,500 customers remain without power.

The Board focused its attention on the restoring lines that would return power to the most people at one time.

Still, at least 300 customers will have to hire an electrician to repair the place where the power lines enter a home or business. It’s called the mast. A licensed electrician is required to repair those systems before the Board can restore power to the house. The utility can help customers with an interest free 12-month loan to pay approved electricians through their bill.

He says this storm was different than what the utility is used to seeing in the area. As the storm hit the region, it snapped 41 power poles, and knocked down 400 power lines.

Restoration of power on broken poles can take hours, he says, noting one pole took four crews 16 hours to bring back online. Peffley says there are 100 crews “on the ground from all over the country.”

Peffley says the Board’s ongoing tree trimming work held up, but the storm’s ferocity pulled up and snapped 70-foot trees throughout the region.

“It appears as if the storm moved in relatively quickly,” Lansing Fire Chief Brian Sturdivant says. “And then it seemed to hover over Lansing and our region for awhile before it blew out. Therein lies a lot of damage.”

Andy Kilpatick, director of Public Services for the city, says it could be weeks before all the storm debris is removed.