Thousands lose power due to storm

Duke Energy is reporting as many as 15,000 of its customers were without power in Bartholomew County after a severe thunderstorm plowed through central Columbus Saturday afternoon, with straight line winds causing trees to fall on power lines, cars and homes.

Duke Energy spokesman Chip Orben said crews were assessing damage all over the city and county Saturday and there was no current estimate on the time that power would be restored.

Bartholomew County REMC reported an additional 2,069 without power on Saturday afternoon.

A major Columbus intersection was blocked after the storm at Central Avenue and 25th Street, where a power pole was damaged and brought down lines through the intersection. Columbus police were directing traffic at the intersection into the evening.

Columbus police asked motorists to remember that any stoplights that were out should be treated as four-way-stops, although several calls about property-damage accidents were occurring Saturday night.

Chestnut Street near the cemetery was also blocked due to a tree across the street.

Taylorsville area mobile home parks had extensive tree damage with trees into homes and several homes in the Taylorsville area suffered damage, the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department said.

Columbus firefighters had been out on as many as 40 calls after the storm, ranging from power lines down, trees down, trees down on vehicles and several structure fires that may be related to the power being out, Wilson said. There were about 30 calls pending when Wilson gave his update Saturday afternoon.

Firefighters were sent to a fire at the Gladstone Apartments just after the storm, which Wilson said was quickly extinguished with no injuries reported.

Interstate 65 was closed north of the Columbus exit due to an overturned semi after the storm Saturday, but partially reopened by early evening.

Wilson cautioned residents to stay indoors and stay away from any downed power lines due to the chance that they may still have current.

Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers called in extra deputies Saturday afternoon to handle the large number of calls.

A series of severe thunderstorm warnings were issued at about 4 p.m. Saturday, along with a tornado warning for portions of Shelby County, which was called off after about a half hour.

Wind estimates were estimated at up to 70 mph during the storm, according to the weather forecasters.

Another round of storms was predicted later Saturday night.