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Power still out for thousands; Purdue Cal cancels Friday classes

Updated: June 29, 2013 11:44PM



More than 9,000 Northern Indiana Public Service Co. customers remained without power by Friday afternoon after a swath of thunderstorms with wind gusts approaching 80 mph and golf-ball sized hail swept through the area Thursday night. The storms knocked out power to Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, which led administrators to cancel classes and activities on Friday.

NIPSCO spokesman Nick Meyer said power at the campus was restored around noon on Friday. Meyer said large swaths of Hammond — including City Hall, the Police Department and the 911 center — were without power Friday morning, so crews focused their efforts on helping the public safety facilities.

Downed tree limbs were visible in neighborhoods across Munster, Highland, Hammond, Griffith, Gary and Merrillville in particular. Stoplights were without power and turned into four-way stops on Columbia Avenue, Kennedy Avenue and Calumet Avenue, to name a few. First responders closed down a small area of Kennedy Avenue in Highland to repair power lines near the post office.

The National Weather Service described the storm as a supercell, which produced up to 77 mph wind gusts in Gary and golf-ball sized hail in Merrillville.

Hammond resident Albertine Dent said she was feeding her elderly mother in her kitchen around 6:30 p.m. when the sky suddenly darkened and she took her mom and other family members to the basement to get away from the windows. A power line became detached from their house and the transformer was damaged in the storm, she said.

“The power just went completely out around 6:31 p.m. and it hasn’t been back on since,” Dent said. “Thank God the daycare my mom attends is open and has air conditioning, so she’s fine. We wound up going to Aurelio’s last night since they were open. Now we’re headed to my son-in-law’s father’s house in Gary, since he has power.”

Dent and her daughter stopped by NIPSCO’s mobile customer service center, which was set up in the parking lot of the former Stardust Bowl I in Hammond. NIPSCO customer service representatives were handing out water, granola bars, and information about outage restoration and other power and gas leak related issues.

Meyer said about 30 to 40 customers were lined up in their cars Friday morning.

“At first, they’re very upset understandably, and they want to know what’s happening,” Meyer said. “So we talk to them and it tends to ease their minds a bit.”

Meyer said some NIPSCO customers still may not have power from Monday’s storms because of a damaged weatherhead, which connects to the meter.

“In that case, a customer needs to call an electrician to have it repaired before we can have the power restored,” Meyer said.



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