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Storm-damaged DeMotte should have power back on soon

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



DEMOTTE — “Blessed” is how Jessica Yaeger describes her family in the aftermath of the storms that ripped through the region Saturday felling giant rows of trees like bowling pins on a strike roll.

Four massive trees in her yard on Elderberry Street were uprooted. Another tree, a huge oak, fell on the house but caused little damage. Still another tree toppled onto the garage.

The family of five waited out the storm in their basement — one of only a handful of basements in the neighborhood — along with neighbors who had no safe haven from the winds.

“We didn’t hear no trees fall. We didn’t hear hail. We didn’t hear the damage,” Yaeger said, adding the first steps outside were surreal.

Yaeger, who lives in one of the hardest hit neighborhoods, remained without power Wednesday along with a small number of residents scattered in pockets throughout the town. She and her daughter, Madison Nemeth, 8, were among the more than 50 residents before noon to take advantage of hot food, cold water and information offered by Northern Indiana Public Service Co. in a tent outside DeMotte Elementary School.

Nick Meyer, NIPSCO spokesman, said the company planned to keep the site open into the evening to offer assistance and information to residents.

Crews from Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and other parts of Indiana have been busy all week working to restore the power. Five transmission towers along Indiana 2 were demolished. Power has been rerouted around the towers, which will take several months to replace.

The large number of fallen trees that took out lines and poles around the town and throughout the region mean many individual repairs have been needed. Meyer said the company has not experienced this extensive type of damage from a storm before but he expected most residents would have electricity restored by Wednesday. He said power so far has been restored in all other communities hit by the storm.

“Here the damage is much more widespread,” he said.

Power was just restored at the 8th Street home of Frances Ray and her son Scott Smith before they stopped at the tent for cold water.

“We’ve had no power, no water. Everything in the fridge and freezer went bad,” Smith said.

Smith said the home had some damage and a tree smashed the back half of his car, crushing the roof and blowing out the back window.

Ray said her daughter, who lives a couple blocks away, had her power restored Tuesday, so they have been spending some time there to cool off.

Sharon Steffel said a big birch tree in her yard was uprooted, the deck was damaged and the above ground pool was destroyed. She has been staying at the Marriott in Valparaiso while waiting for power to be restored to her home.

“After this we will probably invest in a guardian system” she said.



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