Thousands remain without power as storm cleanup continues

2014-05-12T19:22:00Z 2014-05-16T00:41:11Z Thousands remain without power as storm cleanup continuesTimes Staff nwitimes.com
May 12, 2014 7:22 pm  • 

Municipal crews, utility workers and homeowners continued to clean up Monday after a line of storms moved across Northwest Indiana late Sunday.

About 3,000 NIPSCO customers — mainly in Gary and Hobart — were still without power about 7 p.m. Monday as a result of the strong storms that moved through the area Sunday night.

As many as 25,000 customers were impacted during the peak of the outages, said NIPSCO Communications Manager Kathleen Szot.

Gary, Hobart and Portage were the hardest-hit areas, though outages were scattered across Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties, Szot said.

Some customers in Portage, Gary and Hobart may be without power until Wednesday, according to information posted at NIPSCO's outage center website.

Visit the outage center at http://www.nipsco.com/en/Stay-Safe/outage-center.aspx or check in with Facebook or Twitter.

Kankakee Valley REMC had restored power to all of its customers by 6 a.m. Monday, Communications and Marketing Director Amanda Steeb said.

She said 1,200 customers were impacted during the peak of the outages in the areas of Valparaiso, Chesterton, Westville, and Starke and Pulaski counties.

Portage city officials reported numerous homes damaged on the city's south side. The roof of El Pueblo Restaurant was blown off.

Nativity of Our Savior Catholic School in Portage was closed Monday because it was without power, according to the school's website.

Joseph Calhoun, director of administration and emergency management for the city of Portage, said city crews worked overnight clearing debris from streets and storm drains.

Remnants of corn stalks in fields south of U.S. 6 were swept off the fields into waterways. Calhoun said the corn debris must be removed to keep it from getting into lift stations, which help move stormwater through the city.

Calhoun said some homes hit by hail Sunday night looked like they were riddled by machine gun fire.

In LaPorte, Mike Cavanaugh had just gone inside Sunday night when several trees came down, including one that took out his garage and two vehicles at 1657 Stone Lake Drive.

A large, dead tree on park department property fell across his property line onto his garage, knocking holes in the flat roof.

Cavanaugh said he and a friend saw the skies darkening and left the two-car garage to go inside. High winds hit about 10 minutes later, and the trees quickly tumbled down.

A large branch from the tree that landed on the garage also shattered all of the windows on Cavanaugh's red 2003 Hyundai Tiburon and put some dents in a nearly new full-sized pickup truck.

For now, Cavanaugh said he's been advised to stay out of the garage because the structure might be unstable.

He has insurance to cover the loss, which he estimated is $50,000 to $100,000.

Officials said few trees came down throughout the county and the ones that did caused no other major property damage that they were aware of.

Times staff writer Bob Kasarda and Times correspondent Stan Maddux contributed to this report.

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