Storm causes more than 2,000 power outages in Elkhart County; repairs could take hours

A series of storms ripping through Illinois and Indiana have so far caused power outages and property damage. Immediately after a thunderstorm passed through, more than 2,000 people in Elkhart County were without power.

Posted on Nov. 17, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Nov. 17, 2013 at 4:00 p.m.

More than 1,000 customers of Indiana Michigan Power and more than 1,000 NIPSCO customers in Elkhart, Goshen, Bristol and surrounding areas lost service during a storm that tore through Elkhart County between 3 and 4 p.m. Sunday, according to information posted to each respective power company's website.

As many as 11,000 Indiana Michigan Power customers were affected in St. Joseph County.

Estimates for when power would be restored were not available, but the companies warned that some residents may have to wait until Monday morning.

On the Indiana Michigan Power website, a message to customers explains that "A full force of I&M crews – aided by employees of other electric companies and outside contractors -- will work on assessing damage and restoring power beginning early Monday morning. High winds, particularly those off Lake Michigan, will prohibit crews from safely using bucket trucks through the night."

Similarly, NIPSCO could not give customers estimates for when service would be repaired. A power outage map on their website initially showed more than 1,000 active outage reports. By 11 p.m. Sunday, that number was at about 200.

"We are currently experiencing significant outages in portions of our service territory," a message above the map states, "As a result, the estimated times of restoration listed for outages below may be unavailable."

Both Elkhart County and Elkhart City dispatch centers said there were no serious accidents or injuries immediately after the storm, but an Elkhart County dispatcher said of about 30 calls made during the one-hour storm, "all but just couple are for wire and tree downfall."

Indiana State Police sent out messages through Twitter, asking residents not to call 911 for problems with road conditions, and to observe storm damage through news and social media instead of going out to look at it.

"Check local media 4 latest info on storms & to see footage of damage. Going out scene only slows the response & endangers emergency workers," one Twitter message from state police advised.

As of 5:40 p.m., it was not immediately clear how much damage was sustained to public and private properties.

The National Weather Service had issued a tornado watch for Elkhart County until 8 p.m. but canceled it shortly after 5 p.m.

A wind advisory -- warning gusts of up to 60 mph -- also remained in effect until midnight.

The Indiana Toll Road issued a wind ban for the entire length of I-80/90 lasting the duration of the high wind warning. The ban affects triple tractor-trailers, long-doubles and high-profile oversize permit loads, with the exception of low-profile steel haulers.

While Elkhart County residents will have to clean up downed branches and endure power outages, tornadoes ripped through central Illinois and other Indiana towns, leaving far more devastation in their wake.

At least four people were injured in Indiana towns south of Elkhart, reports the Associated Press. Kokomo declared a state of emergency Sunday afternoon and police asked residents to stay home and off the streets.

Check back to The Truth's website for updates.

See the Storify below for reader contributions about the nasty weather from today:

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