By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BARODA — A swift-moving storm packing high winds tore through the southern half of Berrien County on Monday afternoon, causing damage and knocking out power to thousands of residents.
The storm left about 31,000 Michigan and Indiana residents without electricity. Southwest Michigan recorded 11,000 outages, while northern Indiana sustained 20,000.
I&M said Berrien County had 9,000 customers without power, as of 9 p.m. Monday. Baroda Township took a heavy hit from the storm.
Baroda-Lake Township Police Chief Shawn Martin was sitting in an airport in San Francisco when he began receiving text messages and pictures from fellow officers after the storm.
Martin said houses along Lemon Creek and Russel roads were hit hard, though he had not heard of any injuries caused by the storm.
“A lot of the damage were tree branches and downed power lines,” Martin said. “A few pictures I was sent included some shingles torn off a roof and a garage that had a door that was blown back into it.”
I&M said numerous customers would remain without service through Monday night, and possibly for an extended period. Estimated times of restoration for remaining customers were expected to be announced today.
As of 4 p.m. Monday, Martin said officers were still on scene assisting firefighters with trees and power lines.
Martin said he was not surprised by the inclement weather, because of how hot and humid the weather has been.
“It came in quick and fast. I checked the weather this morning and it didn’t look too bad,” Martin said. “Then I got a few calls and texts. The biggest thing is people should stay away from down (power) lines and call it in. Let the professionals take care of it.”
Rockey Adams, captain for the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department’s Office of Emergency Management, said the Baroda area was hit the hardest along Shawnee Road, a mile to the north and south.
Adams said they found no evidence of tornadoes, but are recording as much of the damage as possible in order to validate their findings with the National Weather Service.
“We’re still out doing some assessments to see the extent of the damage. It’s mostly been downed lines and trees,” Adams said Monday evening. “There were also a couple reports in Buchanan and Niles Township with trees down. It sounds like Oronoko Township was hit a little as well.”
Bill Marx, Buchanan city manager and police chief, said Red Bud Trail was almost completely blocked at one point north of town near the Wheatberry Restaurant & Tavern. Marx said the majority of power was restored to the city not long after the storm.
A few events were cancelled Monday night.
Lake Michigan College sent out alerts that evening classes were cancelled at the Bertrand Crossing campus due to a power outage. Baroda Township postponed its board meeting, rescheduling it for next Monday.
Outages and safety hazards can be reported online at www.IndianaMichiganPower.com/outages, or by calling 1-800-311-4634.