Trees down, power out after Friday evening's storm

By: Brandon Lewis Email
By: Brandon Lewis Email

A massive dinner-time storm rocked Michiana, sparing no community in the area. It packed fierce winds and torrential rains and has left an awful mess behind.

The storm left widespread damage. Thousands of trees are down, tens of thousands of us are without power, and there's going to be a lot of cleaning up on this Father's Day weekend.

At its peak, the storm that hit us stretched more than 100 miles long with winds reported as strong as 90 mph.

Power lines are down and power outages have been reported in Benton Harbor, Buchanan, Elkhart, New Buffalo, South Bend, and Three Rivers. Indiana Michigan Power estimates as many as 52,400 customers are without power late Friday night. Crews are assessing the damage and beginning the restoration process. Restoration will likely continue through the night and into Saturday. Police ask that if you spot fallen power lines to call AEP at 1-800-311-4634 instead of calling 9-1-1.

South Shore train service between South Bend and Michigan City is canceled for Saturday. Friday's storm damaged lines that provide commercial power to the South Shore trains and signal system. Train service will resume as usual on Sunday.

At the Blackthorn Golf Club, workers alerted golfers to the incoming storm using a GPS based system.

"It just sends a message to all the carts on the course that there's severe weather approaching and please return to the club house," said Rich Love with Blackthorn.

When the system was activated two dozen golfers streamed in from across the course.

"Lightening is what gets me off the course I don't want to get it," said golfer Larry Catanzarite.

About three dozen people in a wedding rehearsal dinner at the course were sent scrambling for the club house, but not before several were injured.

"A gust of wind literally picked me up, I weigh 250 pounds, picked me up into [my fiance's] grandfather and a table, couple chairs landed on me. I've never ever experience anything like that," said groom Ryan Pollack.

A tree in the 3100 block of Boynton Road in South Bend narrowly missed a home. Instead it hit a carport outside, but took out power and gas lines, trapping a woman inside.

She was okay, but crews had to wait to rescue her because of the potential for an explosion.

"I kind of felt helpless because I didn't want to open any doors into her house and cause static electricity cause something...the natural gas to blow," said Lt. Steve Noonan with the South Bend Police Dept.

Crews quickly capped the gas leak, but ten homes were evacuated as a precaution.

The Red Cross arrived shortly after she was rescued to help her find a place to stay until the damage is assessed.

Another tree narrowly missed a home on Jefferson Street.

The street remained blocked Friday evening, but emergency workers placed flares to warn drivers.

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