Storm provides political knockout punch

A stretch of severe weather from south central Indiana to northern Kentucky resulted in a variety of problems Wednesday night. For thousands of potential viewers in Bartholomew County, power outages knocked out some or all of the final televised presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

About 2,900 Duke Energy customers experienced either complete or intermittent blackouts that began at about 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, utility spokesman Chip Orben said.

Those outages on the west side of Columbus were the result of a lightning strike on a pole that took down wires and impacted the utility’s transmission and distribution system, Orben said.

Most Duke Energy customers had their service restored by 9:15 p.m., about 15 minutes after Clinton and Trump began trading words in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Similar problems were experienced between 8 to 10:30 p.m. by 93 Bartholomew County REMC customers, utility spokeswoman Marty Lasure said.

While most affected customers in the Ogilville and Elizabethtown area had their electricity restored sometime during the debate, about 15 homes and businesses in the Jonesville area didn’t get their power back until 10:30 p.m., Lasure said.

Intermittent interruptions in cable television and Internet service were also experienced in isolated areas of Bartholomew County, Comcast regional spokesman Michael Wilson said.

All the disruptions for Comcast customers Wednesday night were attributed to lightening strikes, also affecting would-be debate watchers, with cable and Internet service restored to all affected subscribers by mid-morning Thursday, Wilson said.

Six traffic accidents resulting in injury took place in Columbus between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., as well as several more property-damage accidents, fire department spokesman Mike Wilson said.

They all occurred during a time when heavy rain limited visibility and wet pavement hampered stopping times, Wilson said.

Shortly before 8 p.m., a lightening strike shorted out equipment at the Columbus City Garage, 2250 Kreutzer Drive, but no structural damage was reported, the fire spokesman said.

As storms began moving into Bartholomew County on Wednesday afternoon, radar indicated that heavy rain would be the main concern, said Ed Reuter, 911 Emergency Operations Center director.

A total of 2.96 inches of rain fell in Columbus during a 24-hour period through 7 a.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

During the same period, 3.05 inches of rain was recorded in North Vernon, while residents of Seymour experienced more than 4 inches or rain that caused streets to floods, NWS records state.

To the north, hail as large as three-quarters of an inch fell in the Shelbyville area, the weather service stated.

On the Web

If you missed Wednesday night’s presidential debate for weather or other reasons, type in “presidential debate online” for options to watch it on your computer.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5636.