Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Duneland lucky in storms wake, but 100s still in the dark

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Tree on house at 3rd St. and Porter Ave. in Chesterton

(Tribune photo by Margaret Willis)

 

By KEVIN NEVERS

NIPSCO was warning customers still without power in the wake of Sunday afternoon’s brief but violent storm that it could be “multiple days” before their electricity is restored.

Some 75,000 customers were in the dark at the peak of the storm, NIPSCO said in a statement released early this morning. At 11 a.m. that number had been reduced to 9,177, 776 of whom were in Chesterton, down from a high at 5 p.m. Sunday of 4,790.

Two of those customers were the Brummitt and Jackson elementary schools, which canceled classes today due to total or partial power outages.

NIPSCO was reporting “more than 1,400 separate outage causes, including three downed transmission towers, 48 distribution lines, more than 120 broken poles and cross arms, and several hundred downed trees and limbs.”

“The severity of this storm has affected so many people across Northern Indiana and throughout the Midwest, and it’s critical that we continue to help one another given the dropping temperatures,” said Keith Woodbridge, senior vice president of field operations for NIPSCO. “We’re working hard to get power back to those still affected while supplying as much information as possible.”

Crews did work around the clock, NIPSCO stated, with assistance from “additional support contractors being brought in from neighboring states.”

The company was hopeful that more precise estimated restoration times will be available later Monday afternoon but noted that “some customers may be without power for multiple days.”

NIPSCO is currently pursuing a four-phase restoration process:

*High voltage transmission lines and substations are repaired first, as these “provide power to the largest number of customers,” the company said. “Without repairing this part of the system first, the smaller electric lines connected to homes and businesses can’t be energized.”

*Priorities are then shifted to “facilities most critical to public safety and health, including hospitals, police and fire stations, water lift stations, and communication systems.”

*Next repaired are those lines which will “bring power back to the largest amount of customers the quickest, including major lines that feed power to densely populated neighborhoods and other rural/municipal electric companies.”

*Finally, crews restore service “affecting smaller neighborhoods or outages that impact one or two individual customers.”

At 11 a.m. today 786 customers were juiceless in Valparaiso; 165 in Portage; 15 in Beverly Shores; 111 in LaPorte; 23 in Westville; 2,430 in Lowell; and 561 in Gary; 96 in Hammond; and 16 in East Chicago.

In Duneland

Chesterton Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg was somber this morning, glad that Northwest Indiana was spared the tornadic violence visited on Illinois, but mindful of the lives lost and property damaged in communities not that far from, and not that different from, Duneland.

At 8 a.m. today Schnadenberg was aware of two public street-trees felled by the storm, one in the 100 block of North Jackson Blvd., which landed on a duplex; and the other at Third Street and West Porter Ave., which toppled on a house. The latter, he said, is a “big one.”

Crews were assessing this morning the number of private trees lost or damaged in the storm.

“There’s a lot of half-trees and debris,” Schnadenberg said. And at this point he was unable to estimate how long it will take to complete cleanup, complicated by the fact that the Street Department’s wood chipper has been out of service during the leaf program and that, at the moment, only the grapple truck is available.

Schnadenberg, however, had these two pieces of information for folks:

*Call the Street Department at 926-2222 for brush collection.

*The leaf program will continue while cleanup efforts are being made.

“We obviously got very lucky compared to some,” Schnadenberg said.

In unincorporated areas, storm damage tended to be most severe in the Duneland area, David James, deputy superintendent of the Porter County Highway Department, told the Chesterton Tribune.

“We’re inundated with trees,” he said. “And a lot of them are on wires and we’re unable to take them with NIPSCO and the REMC so behind.”

At 8 a.m. two roads were closed in Duneland due to fallen trees: Brummitt Road in the area of Indian Boundary Road in Westchester Township; and Burdick Road in the area of C.R. 475E in Jackson Township. A third road had also been closed, in the area of C.R. 1200N and C.R. 400E, also in Jackson Township.

At 5:42 a.m. today, meanwhile, the Duneland School Corporation notified staff and parents at Brummitt and Jackson elementary schools that classes were canceled, with no power at all at Brummitt and half of Jackson without lights, Superintendent Dave Pruis said.

Chesterton firefighters responded to three storm-related calls on Sunday, Capt. Aimee Gilbert said:

*At 1:52 p.m. the CFD was dispatched to the 600 block of South 19th Street, where a large piece of tree had come down, taking some power lines with it and blocking the road.

*At 2:23 p.m. the CFD was dispatched to the 300 block of South 23rd Street, after a structure fire was reported there. There was no structure fire but a main electric feed serving the home had melted off and was shorting out.

*And at 6:55 p.m. the CFD babysat a burning transformer, located in the 700 block of South Sixth St., until the transformer blew and the fire went out.