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Portland residents, businesses assist rapid local relief efforts following I-96 pileup

Thanks to local residents, relief efforts surrounding the pileup on I-96 near Portland Township took mere hours to accomplish.

PORTLAND, Mich. — Less than 24 hours following a 150-car pileup along a three-mile stretch of I-96 in Ionia County, the interstate is now clear and those stranded have been taken to safety thanks to the efforts of local residents and businesses in nearby Portland.

As a part of those support efforts, local private towing companies were called in by responders to help clear the wreckage.

"When we got there, it was a mess," Barry Bussell with I-96 Towing and Repair said. "Cars and trucks everywhere, people still in their vehicles, some could get out and some could not. Some were trapped in their vehicles, but could not get out what was not injured, per se, couldn't get out the doors and so forth."

While 13 ON YOUR SIDE was not allowed to go into the salvage lot to see these cars in person, I-96 Towing and Repair shared photos of some of the cars. Many of those vehicles were totaled.

Bussell described the scene he found when he and his crews first arrived, saying many of the cars were not salvageable.

"I've been doing this for 46 years, so nothing's a surprise anymore," Bussell said. "You really don't see the 50- and 100-car pile as much anymore."

"Almost every one was a total loss, without a question," Bussell said.

In Portland, local school buses transported those stranded in the wreckage to a warming center set up in a local church.

The Lieutenant in charge there said he was grateful for local companies alongside law enforcement agencies for providing assistance.

"We have some people here from Portland PD who are helping us in along with the Eaton County Sheriff's Office and a lot of our local wreckers, so we're thankful for the help," Lieutenant Jack Pieters said.

With combined efforts of local crews and emergency services, the community was able to clear the road and get people to safety in just a matter of hours.

"We arrived at 5:34 p.m. and we cleared there last night about 10:55," Bussell said. "At that point, they're bringing in the road graders too because there's so much debris, cleaning the debris off the road."

"But that went pretty smooth for as many cars," Bussell said.

Although the crash caused extensive damage, no fatalities were reported as a result.

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