Thousands of Hoosiers still without power after tornado

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Families trying to clean-up from Sunday’s tornado are still left in the dark.

IPL has restored all of its affected customers. Duke Energy expects everyone will be back up by noon Wednesday.

As of 9 p.m. Tuesday, about 3000 homes were still in the dark in Howard County, one of the hardest hit areas.

“It was like a war zone. It’s like they dropped a bomb up in here. We’re using tea candles, flashlights for light,” said Chris and Candy Stonebraker, who live in Kokomo. “We have a kerosine heater too.”

The Stonebrakers have gone three nights without power. The couple was a few miles west at a family gathering when Sunday’s storms hit.

Their home of 10 years, miraculously, was untouched. Their neighbors were not as lucky.

“It just seems like somebody had their hands on our steps and said, ‘Let me hold your roof down for you,'” they said. “The man upstairs took care of us. That’s what it amounts to.”

A few streets down, Jessica Lowe’s family is staying at a friend’s place until the power comes back on. Their house became too dangerous to live after two power poles fell on top of their garage.

“It’s too cold. We can’t stay here,” said Lowe. “It’s unbelievable. I’ve never been through anything like this in my life. It’s like out of the movies.”

As crews continue to clean-up, Howard County leaders have signed a contract to bring a new notification system to better protect residents.

Larry Smith, Howard County Emergency Management Director, said the Internet-based program, Everbridge Mass Notification, will allow residents to choose how they receive their alerts — whether it be by text, social media, email or phone.

Everbridge is already used in several Indiana counties and even during the Boston Marathon bombings. They plan to launch the program by next year.

“We felt that it fit the glove,” said Smith. “It’s going to be able to span out to the people we haven’t been able to touch and reach before.”

For the Stonebrakers, they know a power outage is nothing compared to what their neighbors are dealing with.

They’re counting their blessings and many others.

“We’re alright. We’re alive,” said Candy.

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