Make your home page

Storm aftermath: Chopping trees, restoring power, beating heat

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — After a Thursday afternoon derecho uprooted trees and knocked down power lines, some people on Friday afternoon had been left in the dark with no power for more than 24 hours.

Crews were working around the clock to get the lights back on, and, now, companies estimate getting electricity fully restored will take days. As of 7:12 p.m. Friday, 31,794 AES customers remained without power. AES reported Thursday night that about 67,000 customers had lost power after Thursday’s severe weather.

Drivers on East 25th Street near Douglass Park could not miss this tree lying in Curtis Payne’s yard after the storm. He says he got home just in time to watch his tree split in half and fall. It missed his house but took down the power lines. So, now he’s trying to clean up and hoping for electricity.

It’s is a big job, but, Payne says, he has to do it. He’s lived in his home for 30 years and has never been afraid of hard work. “I came back here and I saw this tree fall and that one. It fell out to the streets.”

But at his age, the work to address massive trees covering his lawn is harder than it used to be. With no electricity, Payne was making do with a pair of hedge trimmers and a riding lawn mower.

“I was right there on the corner of the house there and I saw this part of the tree that fell back down that way, and that one fell that way. I’m glad it didn’t hit the corner of the house.”

Payne says he’ expecting the work will take a week or more. He can only hope power crews can work faster than that. “I hope I don’t have to do without lights for two or three weeks. That’s a long time to go without lights.”

Payne says, while his side of the street is without power, he will try to get work done earlier in the day to beat the heat. The temperature in Indianapolis hit 90 on Friday. News 8’s eight-day forecast called for more storms and high temperatures in the mid to upper 80s through the extended Fourth of July weekend.

The heat is one of many warning city leaders are giving ahead of potentially more severe weather.

“Last night, the peak of our customer outages reached 81,000,” said Kristina Lund, president of electricity utility AES, during a Friday noontime news conference.

AES says crews are working over time with added support from Illinois, Ohio and Tennessee. But, the restoration process could still take days. The utility is starting with the most critical jobs and moving to the jobs with the highest outages.

Lund said, “We are continuing to work through significant damage to power lines and equipment. In fact, there were roughly 2,600 incidents causing outages on our network.”

City officials say, during the Fourth of July holiday weekend, to be prepared as higher temperatures are expected.