Businesses recover from polar vortex

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After the grueling weather caused by the polar vortex, East Lansing residents and business owners are gearing up to recover from setbacks.

On Wednesday, Consumers Energy issued a statewide emergency alert urging residents and business owners to turn down their thermostats.

As a result of a fire that occurred at the natural gas compressor station in Macomb county, Consumers

was unable to accommodate the surge in demand for gas. Although the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the damage done to the equipment was enough to cause a crisis.

According to Consumers Energy spokesman Terry DeDoes, there was never a risk of running low on supplies. The combination of damaged equipment and unusually high demand led the company to coordinate with the state to issue the emergency alert.

Everyone in the Lower Peninsula was asked to dial their heat back to 65 degrees as wind chills reached record temperatures across the Midwest. The effort was effective enough for the appeal to officially end by midnight on Friday.

Over the weekend, temperatures rose, but the coming week poses a new challenge for businesses. Prior to the public energy appeal, Consumers called on several GM factories to cut production to conserve energy.

David Barnas, a public relations representative from GM, described the effects of the cutbacks, saying as many as 30,000 employees were unable to attend work. However, operations are expected to return to normal this week.

Smaller East Lansing businesses, on the other hand, may feel the sting of last week’s cold more  than big corporations like GM.

Joni Smith, owner of Harrison Hair House, is struggling to regroup after disruptions. Many customers rescheduled or cancelled, which can leave a small business vulnerable in a matter of a few days.

Flat Black and Circular, a record store on Grand River that opened 41 years ago, faced a significant drop in sales. The store was closed Wednesday and Thursday and saw virtually no customers on Monday or Tuesday.

“We effectively lost most of a week’s business,” said manager Jon Howard.

Many other businesses in East Lansing faced similar circumstances. Especially independently owned businesses that serve recreational purposes are dependent on factors like the weather to maintain themselves.

These business owners will have to buck up in this week’s rain to make up for losses caused by the cold.


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