Thousands of power outages in Howard County Thursday after tornado outbreak

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KOKOMO, Ind. – Thousands of people remain without power Thursday in Howard County after a tornado outbreak.

As of 5 p.m. Duke Energy was reporting 11,712 outages in Kokomo while 400 workers are on the ground trying to fix downed lines.

While there is no official estimate of when power will be fully restored, Kokomo resident Tabatha Carter said she was told it might be a week before she gets her power turned back on.

Carter told us she wasn't too upset, because not having a charged cell phone means she is spending more quality time with her daughter Kendall.

“We’ve been hanging out. We’ve been finding things to do. Playing games and talking.”

The situation has caused roads to be closed and it's creating a dangerous situation for residents.

“Those lines, they look the same whether they’re powered up or de-energized and so I want people to be aware of that," said Kevin Johnston, Government and Community Relations Manager for Duke Energy. "Sometimes you have a back-feed off of someone's generator that might be a problem on those lines and so we just want people to be aware, stay away, let us do our work, and we’ll get these put back in the air."

Major cleanup efforts are underway, but Thursday morning storms complicated the process. The Howard County Administration Center, Courthouse and Government Center are on a delay and won’t open until noon Thursday. Area schools were closed.

Kokomo and Howard County were under a State of Emergency Wednesday as crews tried to get a handle on the damage. More than a dozen people were injured by flying debris.

Mayor Greg Goodnight spoke on FOX59 Morning News and said they have a “pretty good assessment” of the damage. Some roads are closed because of downed trees and the fact that some traffic lights are out.

“We’re asking people if you don’t need to go out, please stay at home so we don’t impede any cleanup efforts taking place,” Goodnight said.

Goodnight said other mayors from around the state have offered to help in any way possible. He was on the phone until midnight talking to some of them about the damage and response.

“We’ve had a lot of outreach from other mayors and we’re trying to make sure our resources are used wisely. So we’re probably going to take them up on their assistance,” he said.

Goodnight said a lot of people are offering to help and officials were trying to coordinate those efforts. He said anyone in Howard County should call 211 to help agencies coordinate those efforts. He urged any prospective volunteers to contact the United Way or City Hall.

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A shelter has been opened to help victims. It's located at the Kokomo Events Center at 1500 North Reed Road. You can donate to the Salvation Army's efforts by texting “Hoosier” to 41444.

News crews observed downed power lines and uprooted trees in a neighborhood at Webster and Hoffer streets. It’s less than two miles from where a tornado destroyed the Starbucks near the Markland Mall. Indiana State Police were at the location Wednesday night.

A woman who talked to us said she watched from her living room window as the tornado went down her street.

“There’s trees down on houses and there’s people with no place to go and I don’t know if anybody’s hurt or not…but I feel real lucky,” said Dixie Bolin. “I knew God was with me, so was my mom and dad.”

Utility crews are fanning across the city to assess the damage as they work to restore power.

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