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Storms down trees, power lines in northwest Indiana

Traffic signals intersectiCalumet Avenue Evans Avenue Valparaiso were spun their poles by Sunday afternoon's strong winds. Here emergency personnel replace

Traffic signals at the intersection of Calumet Avenue and Evans Avenue in Valparaiso were spun on their poles by Sunday afternoon's strong winds. Here, emergency personnel replace a temporary stop sign that the wind knocked down. The National Weather Service issued a High Wind Warning for the region. | Michael Gard/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 19, 2013 6:26AM



A major storm system that moved through Illinois and Indiana Sunday afternoon appeared to have mostly spared northwest Indiana.

Police in Hammond, Portage and Dyer reported downed trees and power lines. Dyer also had reports of backed-up water, according to police.

The Northern Indiana Public Service Company’s website reported that as of 5:40 p.m., Valparaiso (7,700) and Portage (4,815) had the most outages.

In all, more than 49,000 homes, mostly in Lake and Porter counties, were without power early Sunday evening. NIPSCO was still working on assessing the damage and could not estimate when power would be restored.

Downed power lines blocked closed Interstate 65 by U.S. 231 until about 5 p.m., when works crews were able to cut them back, according to state police. The same power lines closed U.S. 231 as of Sunday night, and the I-65 exits to the highway remained closed.

Porter County officials said they had reports of damage near Kouts, Portage and Chesterton, but they had no details.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Department is reporting that some barns were blown over, although the locations were not available.

In Illinois, the storm delayed the Chicago Bears’ game at Soldier Field and forced fans to evacuate their seats.

Downstate, the Illinois National Guard was dispatching 10 firefighters to the central Illinois community of Washington, near Peoria, to search for survivors of a powerful tornado. There were reports that people were trapped in buildings.

Area hospitals were also trying to set up a temporary emergency medical care facility in Washington. One official in a nearby hospital says it remains unclear how many people were injured or the severity of those injuries. Steve Brewer of the Methodist Medical Center of Illinois in Peoria says a few people have come to the hospital and about 15 more had gone to another area hospital.

A tornado or a series of tornadoes hit several central Illinois communities. Washington appears to be the hardest hit.

— The Associated Press contributed



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