Friday, August 17, 2007

Indiana Residents Furious Over Prolonged Outage

Almost sounds like a Hurricane Katrina situation. Maybe it wasn't that serious, but Gary, Indiana is talking about being declared a disaster area as they clean up after some severe storms rolled thru. I just saw this on CBS 2 just now. I guess a consequence of being a town not on the make...
The heat is on, and the electricity is off, for thousands of frustrated residents in Northwest Indiana.

As CBS 2's Mai Martinez reports, residents of Gary, Hammond and other areas are facing a hot, sticky weekend with few options to cool down, on account of power outages stemming from major storms on Wednesday. To make matters worse, debris from the storm is everywhere.

At 5 p.m. about 16,000 residents remained without power. As of 4:30 a.m., NIPSCO said 21,600 people were without power. They had not been updated as of 11 a.m. At the height of the storms, about 66,000 NIPSCO customers were without power.

NIPSCO crews said they have been making progress, but as the temperatures rise, the tempers of the people of Northwest Indiana are rising too. Power in Hammond may be out until Sunday night, and in Gary it may be out until Monday night.

CBS 2 Northwest Indiana Bureau Chief Pamela Jones walked with Gary Mayor Rudy Clay as he assessed some of the storm damage Friday afternoon.

"I've never seen it this devastating in Gary, Indiana,” Clay said.

The city has been declared a disaster area by Lake County Indiana Commissioners. It means as the city struggles to clean up seemingly endless debris, the process of getting state and federal help can begin.

“If we don't qualify for it, nobody does because this is really a devastating situation,” Clay said.

With power poles still down and some on their way to fall, the problem for many is simple: no power.

The winds snatched storm victim Martinez Newman’s tree up from the ground and dropped it on his house and car.

"I called NIPSCO and they said I can't have power because somebody else has a problem with their house,” he said. What does that have to do with me?"

Residents say the damage is almost unbelievable, but the forecast from NIPSCO that will likely leave them without power until Monday is even harder to believe.

NIPSCO says extra utility crews are up and running and making progress. The company had suggested that people leave home to wait out the blackout.

One family did just that, and came back to find looters had broken in.

"So they took advantage because they had to have been watching us leave because, like I say they went in probably a few hours after we left,” Jonte Riley said.
How unfortunate for that struggling city.

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