Rural residents wait in the dark for power to return

Rick Lynch and his family huddle around the fireplace as they wait for power to be restored.

It's taken days for some people to get their power restored in Indianapolis, but in some of the outlying areas of central Indiana, the process can take even longer.

Duke Energy has restored electricity to almost all its customers, but IPL still had over 700 customers without power late Wednesday night. The South Central Indiana REMC is in even worse shape, with 1,300 customers without power since Saturday.

Rick Lynch and his family live in the country south of Martinsville and have been waiting patiently for the lights to come back on.

"Yeah, this is how we've been living since Sunday," Lynch said.

It's pretty in the country - and quiet. But it's been very quiet since the power went out Sunday and life has been reduced to a simple form.

"It's a job to keep this fireplace going, to keep this house warm and keep the pipes from freezing," Lynch said.

Except for the light from the fireplace, Lynch's house is dark. The South Central Indiana REMC is their power company, with far fewer customers per mile of line than some of the bigger utilities. The company's CEO Greg McKelfresh says it has to work harder to get each one back online.

"We basically have doubled our crews with the outside crews that we've brought in," said McKelfresh.

From 12 crews to 24 and they still have more than a thousand people offline after what he calls the worst storm in his 38 years with the company.

"We've had ice storms, we've had rain storms and tornadoes go through the system and all, but just the access to getting to locations to restoring service and the conditions we are working in today are so difficult," McKelfresh said.

Lynch says he understands that the power company is trying and, in the meantime, relies on his training in the Marines to keep his family going until the power comes on.

"We've all taken turns dealing with the fire, to keep it going. It's a group effort, it's a family effort," he said.

McKelfresh says the worst of the storm's aftermath is over and the warmer temperatures on the way will help crews be more efficient in the coming days.