Destructive Storm Tears Through Starke County and Surrounding Area

Dennis Estok, Bruce Williams, and Jim Coad cleaning up storm damage at annex.

A destructive storm ripped through the Starke County and Knox areas Tuesday morning, cutting out electricity to over 80,000 NIPSCO and Kankakee Valley REMC members at one time.

Starke County EMA Director Ted Bombagetti talks about where most of the damage is located.

“Most of the damage is in the City of Knox itself,” said Bombagetti. “We do have some out in the outlying areas. The trees literally knocked down poles and wires. If you don’t need to be out, let the guys do their job and get the roads cleared up.”

He said the most important thing to focus on during times like this is getting emergency response to those who need it.

“Our primary goal is to keep the emergency dispatching going. We had some issues there, but just be patient. All of the road crews are out – the county side and the state side. The utility companies are out and about. Patience is going to be the due diligence for today,” said Bombagetti.

Bombagetti was asked if his weather contacts have told him what exactly tore through the area.

“The rumor is that it is the same storm that went through the area [June 29]. The impact was strong tornatic winds. Nothing has been made official yet,” said Bombagetti.

Starke County Commissioner Kathy Norem praised the crews and their swift work.

“The City of Knox has done a really good job at clearing up the roads and the county has been out cleaning up the roads. I’m pleased with the effort that I see with the city and county and the fire department who is out responding to calls,” said Norem.

Highway Superintendent Steve Siddall said the cleanup is going well.

“We’ve just got about everything opened except for the roads with the downed power lines,” said Siddall. “We’re waiting on NIPSCO and REMC to come in. We are putting up barricades just in case nightfall and they don’t get to it. I’m sure some roads will still be closed in the morning. If you are traveling and you see a barricade, DON’T try and go around it or through it because it is there for your own good.”

The storm knocked out the phones and other means of communication with the public with the highway department. Siddall has a way for you to notify the sheriff’s department if you have a road closure due to debris.

“Call the sheriff’s department. That is the best solution. They can get a hold of us. That’s about the only way you’re going to get us,” said Siddall.

We will continue to update you on the clean up situation and the weather situation. Look out…it’s supposed to be near 100 degrees on Wednesday.