2nd round of storms; 14,000 still without power
LaPorte County took the brunt of the damage from rains early Wednesday morning in the second wave of storms to hit the Northwest Indiana region in two days.
Kathleen Szot, external communications manager for Northern Indiana Public Service Co., said crews were still working to restore the outages in north Lake County from Monday night when new rains left customers, primarily in the Michigan City area, without power early Wednesday morning.
About 14,000 customers still were without power Wednesday afternoon, mostly in northern Lake County.
A smattering of customers in LaPorte County were without power as well. About 4,000 of those customers without power are in Gary.
Szot said crews have made a lot of progress but many of the outages are isolated and impact just one to a couple customers making the restoration process slow.
“That’s a big reason some of these are extended outages,” Szot said. “We are hoping to get everybody restored by Thursday.”
Four hundred crew members were in the field Wednesday and planned to work into the night making repairs.
“We are hoping to make some good progress into the evening,” she said.
Szot said NIPSCO has partnered with Gary to operate a cooling center at the Genesis Center where residents can cool off and find water and refreshments.
NIPSCO customer service representatives will be on hand to answer questions from customers and provide information about the restoration process.
The National Weather Service said LaPorte received 6 inches of rain from storms Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Flash flood warnings were in effect for many areas of northern Indiana.
In Valparaiso, parts of Fairgrounds Park were under 10 feet of water Wednesday. But that’s fine.
“That’s the way it’s supposed to work. It’s a dual-function park,” said John Seibert, director of Valparaiso’s parks and recreation department.
“Without it, there would be much more water in other places that there shouldn’t be.”
Park officials padlocked the facility, which includes soccer and softball fields and a walking track, at 8 a.m. Wednesday to keep people out of the deep water.
Seibert said the park would reopen when the water level drops.
The last time the park held so much water was after the extreme rains in September 2008, which took two days to drain.
Other parks designed as detention facilities for storm water include Forest Park and Creekside golf courses.
Bicentennial Park, on Burlington Beach Road, is the newest detention facility, though it’s not yet tied in with improvements planned for Burlington Beach Road.
“It did serve the immediate area,” Seibert said.
Contributing: Amy Lavalley