Crews work to restore electricity to residents

Seymour came to a standstill Wednesday morning after a series of storms created power outages for more than 8,600 Duke Energy customers.

Chip Orben, spokesman for Duke Energy, said around 2 p.m. Wednesday that a mobile substation had been brought in and set up to start generating power for customers in Seymour.

“We are making connections and testing the mobile unit, but it’s not a quick process. It’s not like using an extension cord and just plugging it in,” he said. “There are additional crews and contractors out putting wires and poles back up, too.”

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Lightning struck a major substation, causing an electrical fire, at 10th and O’Brien streets during the early morning hours Wednesday, leaving most of the city without electricity. A downed transmission pole at Tipton Street and Airport Road also created a second large outage.

Power was restored to some areas of Seymour, including parts of the downtown, about 3 p.m. Wednesday. Later in the day, Duke reported that it might by midnight today before power to all customers is restored.

“It’s very unusual that we lose all four circuits in a substation, but that’s what happened,” he said. “We appreciate our customers’ patience. We know it’s an inconvenience.”

Duke customers that remain without power should call 800-343-3525 to report it.

Cellphone service also was interrupted for most local residents.

Jackson County REMC also said the same of its 5,000 customers in Jackson, Jennings, Lawrence, Scott and Washington counties that were without power.

The outages, some of which were caused by high winds, led to the cancellations of classes at Seymour Community Schools, Trinity Lutheran High School and other parochial schools.

Other issues

While the storms caused some damage to homes, pole barns and sheds in southern Jackson County and a few homes in the Seymour area, no deaths or injuries were reported, police said.A total of 76 tilapia being raised by Seymour High School FFA students in the high school’s aquaponics lab, however, had to be harvested early due to the power outage.

FFA adviser and agriculture teacher Jeanna Eppley said she arrived at the school around 7:15 a.m. and saw that the clocks had stopped at 5:45 a.m.

“The fish were already trying to jump out of the tanks to get oxygen,” she said.

Luckily for the ag department, the fish already were harvest weight, so several FFA members came in to help fillet them. The fish will be frozen and stored, she said.

“We were within a couple of weeks of harvesting them anyway, so the storm just made us have to do it earlier,” she said.

She said the students also would likely be harvesting a bed of lettuce that had been a part of the hydroponics lab.

On Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that Seymour Community Schools also were going to be closed today.

Quick onslaught

More than 2.5 inches of rain fell in the area during the storms that began late Tuesday night and ended at mid-morning Wednesday.Those rains caused flash flooding and may have contributed to a semitrailer that jackknifed early Wednesday morning on Interstate 65 just south of the Crothersville exit.

No one was injured in that wreck, reported at about 6:30 a.m., but both southbound lanes initially were closed. One lane reopened at about 8 a.m., while the second reopened later in the day.

Sgt. Stephen Wheeles with the Indiana State Police said most of the damage in Jackson County involved down trees and limbs falling on vehicles, yards and roads and hitting residents. A sheep barn near Vallonia sustained damage and a mobile home on Seymour’s west side was damaged when a carport blew into it.

Because of the rainfall, the East Fork White River at Rockford was expected to crest at 13.8 feet at 1 a.m. Saturday morning. At noon Wednesday, the river stood at 6.86 feet.

Lt. Andy Wayman with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department said there was some flash flooding in the county, but most of it had subsided by Wednesday afternoon.

He said at one point, State Road 250 and U.S. 31 were closed because of flash flooding.

“State Road 39 south of Tampico is still flooded right now,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “But that could change in 30 minutes with flash flooding.”

Wayman said he saw a lot of damage to barns, some of them missing roofs, and a lot of big limbs down and trees blown over in the Tampico area.

“That area seemed to be hit the hardest,” he said. “I heard about some barn and silo damage in the Cortland area. It’s kind of odd. Most of it was in the southern part of the county, and then there was Cortland.”

County Road 600 South between county roads 500 East and 700 East remain closed because of three downed electrical transmission towers and lines remain lying across the road.

Duane Davis, director of Jackson County Emergency Management Agency, said he has not heard of any official reports of tornadoes in the county or anyone being left homeless from storm damage.

“My biggest concern is that people will be starting generators to run heaters in their homes tonight (Wednesday). It’s supposed to get cold. If they are not used properly, they could create safety issues,” he said.

Davis said people need to be careful and make sure generators are well ventilated and they use heavy-duty electrical cords.

The last time Seymour experienced a similar incident was March 10, 2006, when gas service was interrupted for several days when a Vectren Energy line beneath the East Fork White River north of Rockford broke. That break left about 6,100 residents without heat, and in some cases, hot water.

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To report an outage or other issue, call:

Duke Energy: 800-343-3525

Jackson County REMC: 812-358-4458 or 800-288-4458