The remnants of Hurricane Ike's 45-75 mph wind gusts wrecked havoc in the Wabash Valley when it arrived Sunday.
The hurricane crashed into the Gulf Coast Saturday with 100 mph winds and left approximately 2.4 million residents in Texas and an additional 200,000 in Louisiana without power. Officials confirmed that it could be weeks before electricity is fully restored to the area.
When Ike arrived in Indiana Sunday, although downgraded to a tropical depression, thousands of residents in more than 60 counties throughout the state lost power.
Reports from three power companies that serve Clay County residents -- including Duke Energy Indiana, Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC and Parke County REMC -- show approximately 2,000 residents lost power.
Nearly 300,000 Duke Energy Indiana customers experienced power outages, with 1,093 customers in Clay County. As of Monday, only one local household was listed without power.
"This may be the most significant storm our company has ever experienced in Indiana in terms of number of customers affected at the peak," Duke Energy Indiana President Jim Stanley said in a press release issued Monday. "I also can't recall another storm where we've had so many individual cases of trouble, which makes power restoration slower going. Many of the outages are from trees or branches falling into power lines."
According to Duke Energy Business Relations Manager Rick Burger, local crews were sent to help other crews in areas hit much worse once finished getting the power back on in Clay County.
"Clarkesville got hit really hard, there are 36,000 customers without power there," Burger said. "We have some crews from Carolina coming up to help in the areas hit the worst."
In his 31 years of experience, Burger said the weather this year has been the most challenging of his career.
"The turmoil caused by the weather this year has been incredible," he said. "First, there was wind in the early part of the year, then there was that couple of strong storms in the spring that most people have probably forgot about because of the flooding in June and now this. It really has been a challenge to keep the power on, but I guess things like this make you appreciate electricity."
Because UDWI REMC serves customers who live in rural areas, officials are hoping their customers will be patient as crews work their way through the area.
"I'm really amazed at how bad the heavy wind damaged so many trees," Manager of Marketing and Customer Relations Jill Gilmore told The Brazil Times. "We have 50 employees serving 20,000 customers in more than 11 counties, and we have a constant steady stream of calls coming in from residents reporting outages."
Gilmore said several work crews are in the area attempting to clear the debris and hopefully get the power back on by Wednesday.
"People need to contact us if their power is out," Gilmore said. "But there are so many outages, we need people to please be patient with us. Just keep calling."
UDWI REMC customers may report outages at (812) 384-4446 or (800) 489-7362, but, according to Gilmore, they should have the company map location for their residence.
"The (911 or) real address is not really helpful. We need the location number used on the REMC map," she said. "The location number is printed on the customer's bill. A customer can also use their bill or phone number when reporting an outage."
Approximately 100 Parke County REMC customers south of United States 40 on the east side of the county lost power for a few hours Sunday, but officials told The Brazil Times is was quickly restored.
"The high winds knocked down a lot of trees, which knocked down the power lines, but we had the power back on within a couple of hours," Operations Manager Keith Fischer said Monday.
"We currently don't have any customers out at this time."
Utility emergency tips:
* Write down the contact information, including pertinent information for reporting an outage, for all utility companies and keep it where it can be found in an emergency,
* Have at least one traditional analog phone at home that does not require electricity to operate. Cordless phones and phones with built-in answering machines will not operate during a power outage,
* If a power outage occurs, customers need to contact their respective utility company and not contact 911 services unless an actual emergency situation is occurring,
* In anticipation of an extended power outage, consider creating a plan that allows you to move family -- especially those with special needs -- to an alternate location. If it is safe outside, consider checking on neighbors, who may benefit from assistance,
* Make sure flashlights are readily available and working and that a supply of extra batteries is on hand,
* Keep an emergency supply of water and non-perishable food items on hand. Consider the need for specialty items such as prescription medication, baby food, additional weather appropriate clothing and a safe heat source,
* During severe weather or power outages, turn off and/or unplug as many appliances and electronics as possible. This will reduce the potential for damage or fire. After the power is restored, wait 5-10 minutes before turning them back on when the power is restored, and
* Do not open freezers and refrigerators unless absolutely necessary. Because opening these appliances will allow food to thaw more quickly.