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Downed lines cause safety concerns in Barry Co. community

BARRY COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Newschannel 3's I-Team went in search of answers after neighbors in a Barry County community called with serious safety concerns.

Heavy cable still litters the ground along a busy road, more than a month after a devastating ice storm snapped its support poles.

Residents say it's dangerous and they can't get any of the utility companies to take responsibility.

There are thousands of feet of heavy cable down on the ground and massive support staff snapped like twigs.

For five weeks now, people who live in the area have been trying, unsuccessfully, to get the utilities to clean it up. So they called Newschannel 3 and asked for help.

Hoping to avoid a fight with a utility, this customer asked us not to use his name.

"There were couple lines across the road that were driven on for days," he explained.

"We were told they were dead but they just left them there," he added.

Even without power, they're an obvious hazard.

"The snowmobile trail runs down the road, and one of the snowmobilers got tangled in it and thrown from his snowmobile," the customer said.

Luckily he was all right, but enough was enough.

"We called them a couple times and they said they were working on it," the customer said. "I sent them an e-mail and they sent me one back saying they needed more information."

So we called Consumers Energy ourselves, and a crew came out within an hour Tuesday night to assess the problem.

What they learned is that the lines don't belong to Consumers.

In fact they're not even electric lines--they're phone lines.

A quick search revealed multiple phone companies service southern Barry County, so we came back out Wednesday to figure out which phone company is responsible for the mess.

The telephone poles bear the name Ameritech, which another search showed us is now AT&T.

A service tech told us we were the first people to notify them about the downed lines despite being down for 5 weeks.

We were also told as more customers depend exclusively on cellphones, land lines like this, built to serve hundreds of customers, may be inactive or even abandoned.

Meaning a hazard like this could go unattended indefinitely.

The AT&T service tech told us a crew will be out first thing tomorrow to assess the damage and at least begin the clean-up process.

We will follow up to make sure it's taken care of.

If you are experiencing a similar problem we're you live, please reach out to us by phone, email, Facebook or Twitter.