INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana | DMN — Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is asking businesses and schools to remain closed through Wednesday as more than 30,000 people remain without power and midday wind-chills are at -41 degrees Fahrenheit. Public Safety Director Troy Riggs says police are only responding to emergency runs and weren’t taking accident reports except in cases of serious injury or death. “I want everyone to realize just how serious all of this is right now,” Ballard said. “This weather combination that we are seeing right now with all of the snow and the cold is unlike anything we’ve seen in decades, and I can’t emphasize that enough – the cold really scares me such that we could have temperatures that are potentially deadly or life-altering temperatures right now.” The mayor also urged people to check on elderly neighbors and to bring outdoor pets inside.
Today, cold temperatures were also causing utility equipment to fail in some places. Indianapolis Power and Light spokeswoman Katie Bunton said that “due to the extreme conditions, damage is significant,” Bunton said. “The vast majority of customers should be restored by Thursday morning.” IPL has enlisted help from neighboring utilities to boost manpower, she added. IPL now has 70 crews, representing approximately 260 workers, working now round-the-clock to restore power, she said. That number includes some workers who might still be traveling to Indianapolis to assist. IPL has had extra crews working since Sunday to restore power and planned to have extra manpower through Thursday, she said. As of 9:50 a.m., 8,124 customers of Duke Energy across the state were without power, including 1,190 customers in Morgan County and 202 in Hamilton County.
Police are investigating a possible cold-related death on the city’s Far Westside. The Wayne Township Fire Department responded to a cardiac arrest call just after 8 a.m. to a house in the 6700 block of Carlsen Avenue near North Girls School Road. Crews found a woman unconscious in the backyard. Michael Pruitt, spokesman for the fire department, said the death is possibly cold weather-related. Road conditions remain treacherous in much of central and north-central Indiana on Monday, the day after a winter storm dropped more than a foot of snow on some areas.
The Indiana Department of Transportation said Monday that blowing and drifting snow, along with subzero temperatures, have made clearing the roads all but impossible. “This is a dangerous situation, and all are advised to stay home until roadways can be safely cleared,” INDOT said in a statement. All lanes of Interstate 65 between Gary and Lafayette remain shut down because of hazardous road conditions. Indiana State Police said Interstate 80/94 is closed from mile marker 34 to the Illinois state line in northern Indiana and that U.S. 35 is shut down in Howard County from U.S. 31 to State Road 13 in Grant County.
Numerous other roads are also impassable and closed to traffic, but the list above represents the more heavily traveled roads in west-central Indiana. INDOT said abandoned vehicles are making it very difficult to clear the roads, aside from the blowing and drifting snow. Gov. Mike Pence ordered the National Guard to activate highway assistance teams in response to the winter storm Sunday. Additional teams were mobilized later in the day. Highway assistance teams will help rescue stranded motorists and will move people to shelters. There are 24 teams and 96 people involved in the effort. Teams were deployed from Lebanon, Johnson County, Shelbyville, Indianapolis, Brazil, Columbus, Richmond, Seymour, Scottsburg, Terre Haute and New Albany. Sunday was the second-snowiest single day on record in Indianapolis. The airport received 11.4 inches of snow.