Storm damages power lines, leaves many without power

2013-11-17T15:30:00Z 2013-11-27T21:35:08Z Storm damages power lines, leaves many without powerThe Associated Press The Associated Press
November 17, 2013 3:30 pm  • 

MUNSTER | A strong storm left knocked down power lines and trees scattered across Northwest Indiana on Sunday causing more than 50,000 residents to lose power.

The storms and tornadoes that moved across the Midwest caused extensive damage in central Illinois and caused officials at Chicago's Solider Field to evacuate the stands and field during the Bears game. 

In Northwest Indiana, severe storms that brought high winds and rain had cleared the area by 2:30 p.m. 

Indiana State Police temporarily closed the northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 65 from mile markers 240 to 247 while crews cleared downed power lines on the road. The lanes were reopened by 5:30 p.m., but troopers said the exits between the 240 and 247 mile markers remained closed. 

As the storm moved through the area, a tree fell on top of a house on Fremont Street in South Haven, said Lt. Micah Bell, of the South Haven Fire Department. Everyone was outside of the house by the time firefighters arrived at the scene and there weren't any reported injuries. 

On the 15500 block of Morse Street in Lowell, a barn was destroyed causing debris to be blown onto the nearby road, said Patti Van Til, spokeswoman for the Lake County Sheriff's Department. There were no reported injuries. 

Van Til said the southern of Lake County was most heavily impacted by downed trees and power lines. 

There were reports of flooding in Munster, and a partially damaged building on Marshall Street and 133rd Avenue in Crown Point. 

Porter County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Larry LaFlower said there were reports of downed trees and power poles around Valparaiso and the northern part of the county. He said there were no reported injures in the county.  

NIPSCO crews were out Sunday night assessing the storm's damage that left more than 50,000 residents without power. Larry Graham, spokesman for NIPSCO, said there weren't any estimated restoration times. Some residents could be left in the dark until Monday.

By 8:20 p.m., the number of customers without power had dropped to 38,411, according to NIPSCO's website. Graham said crews planned to work overnight into Monday. 

The outages were widespread across Northwest Indiana with Valparaiso, Portage, Munster, Merrillville, Lowell, Hammond, Gary, East Chicago and Chesterton most heavily impacted. 

"We ask customers to be patient," Graham said. "We will get customers restored as quickly as possible."

Amanda Steeb, spokeswoman for Kankakee Valley REMC, said 2,700 customers in Porter County were without power Sunday night. In Lake County there were 100 customers without power and there were less than 1,000 customers in LaPorte County without power.

By 8 p.m., Steeb said Porter County still had 2,500 customers without power. There were 200 customers in LaPorte without power and only 1 in Lake County. 

"Porter County really took the beating," she said. 

Kankakee Valley REMC crews planned to work overnight to restore power, but the company did not have any estimated restoration times.

Steeb said crews were going to the various communities to assess the damage and didn't have an estimated restoration time. 

ComEd reported there were 14,922 customers in the southern suburbs without power as of 5 p.m., according to the company's website. By 8 p.m. the number had slighted decreased to 14,152 customers. 

The community of Washington in central Illinois appeared particularly hard-hit, with one resident saying his neighborhood was wiped out in a matter of seconds.

"I stepped outside and I heard it coming. My daughter was already in the basement, so I ran downstairs and grabbed her, crouched in the laundry room and all of a sudden I could see daylight up the stairway and my house was gone," Michael Perdun said Sunday afternoon in an interview with The Associated Press on his cellphone. "The whole neighborhood's gone, (and) the wall of my fireplace is all that is left of my house."

As of Sunday evening, three deaths were reported in Illinois associated with the storms, and three injuries were reported in Indiana.

Kokomo city development specialist David Tharp says there's multiple minor injuries there. He did not know how many.

Grant County Emergency Management Director Bruce Bender says one person was injured when mobile homes rolled over at a mobile home. Bender says four homes have been damaged, including two extensively between Marion and the town of Sweetser.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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