Snow cuts power to thousands in Indiana as bitter cold settles in

Police urge motorists to avoid travel

INDIANAPOLIS - At least 67,000 people in central Indiana lost power during Sunday's winter storm or in the brutally cold aftermath Monday, and it won't be restored for some for at least another day.

As of 9 p.m. Monday, Indianapolis Power and Light had more than 21,000 current outages.

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Duke Energy, which services much of the region outside of Indianapolis, reported more than 5,400 outages as of 9 p.m, but said that more than 38,000 customers had lost power at some point during the storm.

With temperatures well below zero, crews are working swiftly to restore power. Duke provided estimated restoration times for some of its key communities. 

Duke said it expects power to be restored to all customers in Franklin by 6 p.m. Monday and to customers in Terre Haute and Martinsville by noon Tuesday.

A heavy, wet snowfall throughout Sunday resulted in downed limbs and power lines, primarily along and north of Interstate 70.

Residents in South Broad Ripple lost power early in the afternoon.

"It went out about 2 p.m., and we've been out … we've had cross-country skiers and snowball fights and snowman-making, and we're just waiting for it to come back," said resident Suzanne Lupton.

John Wood wasn't as willing to wait for power to return. The 83-year-old shoveled what he could, then got a hotel reservation for himself, his wife and their small dog.

IPL said it plans to have crews working 24/7 through Thursday if needed to restore power, but that some residents could be looking at days until their electricity is restored.

A chilling commute

Hundreds of schools and businesses decided to close on Monday for all but absolutely essential services.

For those who still had to venture out, though, INDOT officials said the drive would be difficult and slow-going.

Because temperatures were so low, INDOT officials said the ice melt and salt they typically use was much less effective. And blowing winds made plowing all but futile at times.

To get roads cleaned up as soon as possible, the city of Indianapolis took the rare step of calling upon hundreds of private contractors to remove snow on neighborhood streets. It's a call the city makes only in the most extreme cases, officials said.

"It's a very heavy snow … as soon as you plow, you go back and you think it's clean and then here comes the wind, and my understanding is the wind is going to pick up later this evening, so that's going to be the biggest factor," said Cindy Fox, owner of Cindy Fox Landscaping.

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works was also reminding people that trash pickup normally scheduled for Monday and Tuesday would not happen, in favor of a double pickup next week.

IndyGo services are canceled for Monday except for necessary medical transports.

Snow, cold and danger

Medical professionals around the state were warning people about the obvious dangers of hypothermia and frostbite – which can occur in just minutes in subzero temperatures – but also less-obvious dangers like carbon monoxide poisoning from gas generators.

Emergency shelters had opened up across the state and Indy metro area to accommodate people who had lost power and heat.

In Lawrence, where thousands were without power and IPL offered little hope of a quick remedy, officials were ushering people to an emergency shelter, some of them by ambulance.

"I have no heat or nothing," one resident, who asked not to be named, told us. "And they said it might be days before we get it, so they wouldn't let me stay at home. I was all set to stay in bed and keep warm, but they wouldn't let me stay."

The Indiana Board of Animal Health was also urging people to bring their pets inside and offer shelter for stray or feral animals in their area. Most pets cannot tolerate more than 20 minutes outside when temperatures drop below zero, they said.

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