ELKHART — A heavy thunderstorm in the Elkhart area just after midnight Thursday resulted in widespread tree damage and broken utility poles and left some 8,000 Indiana Michigan customers without power, company officials are reporting.
Fallen trees also resulted in sometimes serious property damage, but no personal injuries have been reported.
Lt. Travis Snider with the Elkhart Police Department said that the area near East Jackson Boulevard was most affected by the storm. East Jackson Boulevard was closed Thursday morning from Crescent Street to Gage Avenue.
"A lot of trees down, lines down," Snider said. "It's going to take a while to clean it up."
The loss of power at many traffic lights meant that multiple intersections in the city have become four way stops, though some lights were back online Thursday morning, according to Snider.
Two of the residents affected by the storm were Jonathan Ward and Carl Jacobson, who live on the corner of Wood Street and Manor Avenue. They were clearing up fallen trees and branches in their yard Thursday morning.
"The storm just kind of went from light rain and hail and there was a lot of lightning . . . or, we thought there was," said Ward.
In fact, the power lines outside the house were arcing, creating flashes that resembled lightning, he said.
Two trees on their property fell, as did branches from another tree.
"Right above my wife's bedroom. Woke her up," Ward said.
Neighbors began walking around to check on one another during the night, continuing into the morning.
"Even at 1 a.m. there was a whole bunch of people out with headlamps and stuff," said Jacobson
"As I was walking around, that seems to be the refrain, 'Thank God that houses aren't hurt and people aren't hurt,'" Ward said. "It's been nice to see the community come together. We've had several neighbors stop in and offer to help.
He estimated the clean-up in the yard would take about 12 hours with the help of friends with chainsaws.
Nearby, on Crescent Street near East Jackson Boulevard, a large tree had fallen through the roof of a building. On the opposite site of the street, another branch had broken windows and caused other severe damage to a parked passenger car.
Indiana Michigan Power crews had restored 70 percent of the power, and about 2,400 households remained without power as of about 10 a.m. Thursday, the company said in a press release.
In addition to the full complement of I&M crews from South Bend/Elkhart in the field restoring power, additional employees and contractor crews from Michigan, Fort Wayne and Muncie have been deployed to assist in the restoration.
I&M encourages the public to be aware of storm damage in their area, including the possibility of downed power lines. Stay away from all downed power lines.