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Wind hits, trees fall, but no one hurt

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Wind gusts of about 55 mph and about an inch of rain hit the Columbus area early Wednesday, causing power outages, downing trees and damaging property.

Wind speeds in Bartholomew County were similar to what was recorded in adjacent communities, said Mike Ryan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Indianapolis.

The strongest winds to hit Hope occurred between 3:25 and 4 a.m., Town Marshal Randy Bailey said.

There were about five to six minutes of intense winds in Hope, and the gusts were strong enough to blow down the privacy wall outside the men’s restroom at Hope Town Hall, Bailey said.

From 4 to 6 a.m., Bailey saw short periods of heavy rain that greatly limited visibility. But Bailey said those downpours, interspersed with periods of light rain, moved out of the area well before sunrise.

The largest power outage in the Columbus area, which lasted a little more than an hour, was the result of a downed substation near Ogilville. About 1,875 Bartholomew County REMC customers lost power at 2:41 a.m. when strong winds blew a piece of siding from a nearby building into transmission lines at the substation. Utility spokeswoman Marty Lasure said electricity was restored by 3:55 a.m.

There were no reports of injuries from the storm.

A number of first-responders said they were expecting the storm’s aftermath to be worse, with most of the damage north of Columbus.

“I don’t think the storms were as severe as we anticipated,” Duke Utility District Manager Chip Orben said.

Columbus and Bartholomew County police agencies and the Emergency Operations Center reported:

A tree fell on a car near Maple and 19th streets.

A fallen tree blocked a lane of West Goeller Boulevard.

A tree fell in the 1900 block of Union Street.

Trees were down in the area of County Road 900N and County Road 170W.

Damage to pillars and siding of a house in the 4000 block of West County Road 950N.

 Several fire and burglar alarms were set off, mostly in the southwest part of Columbus.

In addition, a resident of White Oak Lake, north of State Road 46 West, said a tree fell on his house, damaging the roof and gutters.

A broken utility pole near Nashville and three incidents of limbs being blown into power lines caused outages for 45 Duke Energy customers. Orben said 43 of Duke’s Brown County customers were affected, and only two impacted customers were located in western Bartholomew County.

The Columbus Kroger, 3110 N. National Road, was closed for about 90 minutes because rain caused the electrical system to fail, said Paul Roberts, the store’s co-manager. The store reopened about 9:30 a.m.

Elsewhere in the region, a utility pole was blown down near the town of Forest Hill on Decatur County Road 700W, south of State Road 46. But law enforcement agencies in both Jackson and Jennings counties said they experienced only minor incidents, such as downed tree limbs and overturned garbage cans.

About six Shelby County homes located northeast of Edinburgh sustained wind damage, according to Shelby County Sheriff Michael D. Bowlby. He said the porch was pulled from a house near Marietta and a couple of older barns were destroyed.

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