Can Michigan’s infrastructure weather extreme storms?

Beyond infrastructure resilience, community resilience will be necessary as extreme weather events become more frequent, according to Beth Gibbons.

Severe storms left over 262,000 customers without power in metro Detroit this week. Parts of southeast Michigan saw wind gusts of up to 70 mph, leading to downed power lines and causing tragedies, like the electrocution of a 14-year-old girl in Monroe.

As of post, more than 200,000 customers remain without power. These outages are occurring a week after demonstrators rallied to protest DTE Energy’s request to raise customer rates by about 9%.

“We know that these events are becoming more common…but we tend to look away from it when we don’t have a plan.” — Beth Gibbons, American Society of Adaptation Professionals

Listen: How we can adapt to extreme weather changes.



Beth Gibbons is the executive director of the American Society of Adaptation Professionals. She says it will be important to think about how we can strengthen both our infrastructure and our interpersonal connections to deal with the increasing number of extreme weather events.

“There is resilience in our built infrastructure,” says Gibbons. “But there is also a thread here about social resilience…having stronger relationships with our neighbors, being prepared to look out for one another.”

Nick Schroeck is the Associate Dean of Experiential Education and Associate Professor at the Detroit Mercy School of Law. He says we need to look at different structural solutions, like placing more utility lines underground and putting solar power on more roofs.

“More volatile weather, more extreme weather, higher winds — these types of storm events are going to be more frequent and more intense,” says Schroeck. “The question is how do we design these systems in a way that are more resilient and more responsive to these types of extreme weather events.”

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date.

WDET strives to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. If you value WDET as your source of news, music and conversation, please make a gift today.

Donate today »


  • Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.