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Fairgrounds Park in Valpo Temporarily Closed

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At 8 AM today, Wednesday, June 26, Fairgrounds Park gates were locked and the park was temporarily closed to the public for their safety.
Fairgrounds Park serves a dual function as a detention facility for storm water; several feet of water exist throughout the park including the parking areas.  The water levels have not receded enough to open the Park at this time but Parks Maintenance continues to monitor the site.  The Park will be reopened as soon as it is determined that it can be done so safely.
Please contact Valpo Parks at 219.462.5144 or ValpoParks.org with any questions.
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INDOT: One Day Closure Thursday of SR 2 in Westville

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LAPORTE COUNTY, Ind. – The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announces the one day closure of State Road 2, between U.S. 421 and U.S. 6 in Westville on Thursday, June 27th. Crews will be repairing the shoulder of the road.
Drivers wishing to travel west on SR 2 will be detoured south on U.S. 421, west on U.S. 6, and back to SR 2. Drivers wishing to travel east on SR 2 will be detoured east on U.S. 6, north on U.S. 421, and back to SR 2.
INDOT reminds drivers to use caution and consider worker safety when driving through a construction zone. For the latest road closures and news from INDOT, like us at www.Facebook.com/INDOTNorthwest and follow us at www.Twitter.com/INDOTNorthwest.
You can find traffic restriction information at www.trafficwise.IN.gov.  Contact the LaPorte District toll free at 1-855-GO-INDOT.
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Valpo Officials Urge Residents to Limit Water Use

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Many residents in the region this morning dealt with street flooding due to overwhelmed sewer systems, including in Valparaiso, which received two-point-three inches of rain in two and a half hours. The City's Utility Director stated he had not seen the detention basins filled to the level they were today since 2008. The city has been preparing for rain events like today for years, with sewer separation projects like Valparaiso Street and Evans Avenue, which the Utility Director says significantly improved their ability to handle the extraordinary rainfall, cut down the number of phone calls from large amounts in past years to just a handful, and that within hours, streets were able to be reopened as the water dissipated and the wastewater treatment facility and pumping stations accommodated the higher flows.
In anticipation of more rain today, Valparaiso residents are urged to limit water use to avoid overwhelming the city's sewer system.
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Munster PD Seek Help to Identify Woman

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(Photo Courtesy of the Munster Police Department)
Police in Munster are seeking information from the public to help in identifying an individual in reference to a theft/credit card incident Monday. Munster Police released a photo of the person, a woman, shown leaving the Target store on Calumet Avenue.  Anyone with information on the identity of this individual is asked to contact the Munster Police Department’s Investigation Division at (219) 836-6600 or the department’s anonymous hotline at (219) 836-1010.
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Semi Fire Closes NB I-65 for an Hour and a Half

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(Photos Courtesy of the Indiana State Police Lowell Post)
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A semi fire on northbound I-65 this morning shutdown all lanes of traffic so crews could extinguish the blaze. Indiana State Police Lowell Post report just after 7:30am, a semi pulling a box trailer was heading north near the Ridge Road exit, when the driver noticed smoke coming from his exhaust stacks, and shortly thereafter, the semi tractor began to burn, and then became fully engulfed. Authorities report the driver of the semi was not injured, but his box trailer loaded with canned food sustained smoke damage. State Police say all northbound lanes of I-65 were reopened just after 9am.
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Hoosiers Urged to Protect Against Swine Flu

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INDIANAPOLIS—State health officials are encouraging Hoosiers to take steps to protect themselves at county and 4H fairs around the state this summer following detection of four cases of variant influenza A (H3N2v). All individuals visited the Grant County Agricultural Fair, June 16-22, prior to illness, and at least two had contact with swine.  Variant influenza A H3N2v was identified in Indiana last year, with a total of 138 cases in 2012.
The Indiana State Department of Health and the Grant County Health Department continue to investigate these cases. Human infections with H3N2v are rare but have most commonly occurred after close proximity to live infected pigs, such as working with them in barns and livestock exhibits at fairs. Influenza viruses are not transmitted by eating pork and pork products. 
According to the State Board of Animal Health, thirteen pigs at the fair tested positive for H3N2.  It is not uncommon for pigs to be infected with swine influenza viruses but not show any signs of illness.  If ill with influenza they typically recover.
“Fairs are a great way to get outdoors, have some fun and learn about agriculture,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “If you plan to attend a fair this summer, just be sure to wash your hands frequently and avoid taking food into areas where animals are kept.”
Symptoms of variant influenza A include: fever, cough, sore throat, chills, headache and muscle aches. Diarrhea and nausea may occur in children. Symptoms can begin approximately one to four days after being exposed to the illness and last from two to seven days.
As several county fairs will open in the next few weeks, State health officials are increasing surveillance for influenza-like illness. 
“We are increasing our surveillance so we can learn more about this virus and because antiviral treatment is most effective if given within 48 hours,” said Dr. VanNess. “It’s important to contact your health care provider if you begin experiencing flu-like symptoms.”
And if you have visited a fair or been around animals, let your health care provider know. Influenza antiviral drugs can treat infection with H3N2v and quick treatment is especially important for people who are at high risk of serious flu complications, including the very young, the elderly, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease and pregnant women.
Visiting animal exhibits is fun and educational, and Hoosiers are reminded to follow some simple safety steps to prevent illness. Wash hands with soap and water before and after petting or touching any animal. Never eat, drink or put anything in your mouth when visiting animal areas and avoid face-to-face contact with animals. People at high risk for flu complications should avoid close contact with swine in the fair setting particularly. 
While influenza is not an uncommon diagnosis in pigs, the State Board of Animal Health encourages swine owners to contact a veterinarian if their animals show signs consistent with flu, including coughing, respiratory illness, off-feed and fever. Most county fairs have a private veterinary practitioner on call for on-site assistance.
Since there is no vaccine available for people to protect against this H3N2v virus, the best way to prevent infection with variant influenza is to avoid sources of exposure to the virus. As always good hygiene and other everyday preventive actions are important to take as well. Wash your hands frequently. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or elbow. Avoid contact with people or animals that are ill. Stay home if you develop influenza symptoms and contact your health care provider. 

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 309 infections with H3N2v in the United States. According to the CDC, most of these infections resulted in mild illness, though 16 people were hospitalized and one person died. Most of the people who were hospitalized and the person who died had one or more high risk conditions.
For more information about variant influenza A, visit www.StateHealth.in.gov or follow the Indiana State Department of Health on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.
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Rain Causes Closure of Johson Rd at Pahs in LaPorte Co

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LAPORTE, In. – Heavy rain this morning has washed away a portion of Johnson Road at the Pahs Road intersection. This intersection is closed indefinitely. Multiple road closed signs have been placed on the scene and we ask that traffic use the posted detour route.
Northbound: From Johnson Road, left on 400 N, right on 900 W (Woodland Avenue), right on Hwy 20 to Johnson Road.
Southbound: From Johnson Road, right on Hwy 20, left on 900 W (Woodland Avenue), left on
900 W to Johnson Road.
The full extent of the damage is not known, however the closure is expected to be in effect for an extended period of time. Highway officials are working on getting emergency funding to begin planning for repairs.  There are also several areas with high water so we ask that you drive with caution.
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Public's Help Sought in Death Investigation of Teenager

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Porter County Sheriffs Police are asking for the public's help in a death investigation involving a 17-year-old boy. Police say they were called out to the 400 block of Sturgeon Road west of Valparaiso around 5-o'clock Tuesday evening for a teenage boy lying unconscious in the road Authorities say Cody Riffett, who lived near where he was found, was pronounced dead at an area hospital last night. Police issued a news release saying Porter County Sheriff’s Detectives are investigating the circumstances surrounding the victim’s death, and that there is evidence that drugs may have contributed to the situation. Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris says an autopsy is being conducted today.   Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Captain Jeff Biggs at 477-3141.
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Look Out for High Water, Downed Lines

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Taken at Thomas Centennial Park in downtown Chesterton this morning
Much of the standing water reported earlier in the Region has apparently receded, but the Region could see additional showers and storms today and tonight.
Porter County Highway Department reports high water along numerous roads and in subdivisions today, after a lot of rain fell in a very short amount of time: two inches of rain in 37 minutes.  Assistant Highway Supervisor at the Porter County Highway Department David James says that resulted in general flooding around the county. A couple roads were blocked due to storm damage: County Road 125 West south of US 6 in the South Haven area is closed due to trees down as is County Road 750-West at 595-North, just south of Route 130 in the Wheeler area.  Hear our interview with James online here at News Audio on Demand.
NIPSCO and contracted crews from the midwest have been working around the clock making repairs after multiple rounds of heavy thunderstorms have come across the Region since Monday night.
[Photo/Karl Berner]
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Fire Follows Smoke From Behind Sign

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An overnight fire damages a strip mall on the north side of Valparaiso. A Valparaiso police officer discovered the fire, while responding to a business alarm at the Fagen Pharmacy on north Calumet Avenue at that same mall. The officer smelled smoke, police say, apparently coming from behind a Jimmy John's sign. At one point, flames were showing from the roof. Valparaiso Assistant Fire Chief Dan Lamb says the apparent cause is the Jimmy John's sign on the outside of the building. Lamb also said none of the interiors of the building were affected by fire, but sections did sustain smoke and water damage. There were no injuries reported.
[Photo courtesy Tom Martin]
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Fire Damages Valpo Strip Mall

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No word at this hour what caused a fire at a strip mall on north Calumet Avenue in Valparaiso, damaging at least two restaurants.
A Valparaiso police officer discovered the fire -- while responding to a business alarm at the Fagen Pharmacy on north Calumet Avenue, Valparaiso Police say, the officer smelled smoke, apparently coming from behind the Jimmy John's sign at the strip mall they share. At one point, flames were showing from the roof. No word on if there were any injuries. Other businesses in that mall include JD Crepe Company, a Coolwood Cleaners location, and a physical therapy office.
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Backups on 65, Reports of High Water Across Region

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This is from the 61st Ave INDOT camera looking north on I65 this morning.   The right lane of northbound I-65 has been closed near Ridge Rd due to a vehicle fire. INDOT says to expect delays northbound on I-65 near mile 257.8
The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is warning drivers to be on the lookout for high water and debris on the roadways across the Northwest Indiana District. Heavy rainfall continues today, adding to troubles caused by severe storms and several inches of rain affecting the area over the last 48 hours.
INDOT crews are patrolling state roads, posting high water signs or closing roads as needed, and clearing tree limbs and debris that has fallen or blown into the path of motorists. But INDOT says the potential for obstructions is high and drivers should use extreme caution in these conditions.
From INDOT: If you come across a flooded roadway, turn around. Never drive through standing water. According to the National Weather Service most flooding deaths occur in automobiles. Six inches of standing water is enough to stall a car and a foot of water will float many vehicles INDOT encourages motorists to follow updates on high water closures or other restrictions through our social media sites, www.Facebook.com/INDOTNorthwest and  www.Twitter.com/INDOTNorthwest .
You can also find traffic restriction information at www.trafficwise.IN.gov .
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Some Repairs Could Take Through Thursday

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As of early this morning, 13-thousand customers across NIPSCO's service territory remained without electricity after storms this week and the utility company says some repairs may not be complete until tomorrow due to extensive damage, and additional storms may delay restoration efforts. That number has since gone up to nearly 16,000 throughout this morning as storms again moved across the Region. NIPSCO field and contracted personnel have restored more than 75 percent of the 87-thousand electric customers who lost power in Monday's severe storms that produced wind gusts in excess of over 80 miles-per-hour damaged more than 50 utility poles, downed electric wire and caused other severe electric distribution system damage.
Here is the link to NIPSCO's Outage Map: http://www.nipscooutages.com/WSSNisourceOutageMap/outagemap.html?action=city&reloaded=true
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Semi Fire on I-65

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The Indiana Department of Transportation Northwest Office says in Lake County, an accident and semi fire on northbound I-65 at the 257 mile marker had closed all lanes of the highway.  This is affecting the Gary/Hobart/Lake Station area. The right lane remains closed near Ridge Road as of the latest report from INDOT.
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Flooding Reported on Interstate 94

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Flooding is being reported to us along Interstate 94 in Porter County, in the Burns Harbor and Portage area. One caller told us it was about a foot deep and the interstate is down to one to two lanes through that area.
NB 65 jammed with semi on fire near Ridge Road.  Right 2 lanes blocked.  Southbound slowing also
In Valparaiso, report of high standing water on Sturdy Road in Valparaiso between the roundabout and Evans.
Power outages also continue to knock out traffic signals in the Region.  At about 715 this morning one caller told us lightning struck the light at the intersection of State Road 130 and County Line Road in Hobart.  Earlier a caller told us the lights were out at US 20 and Johnson Road in Michigan City
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Flash Flood Warnings, Several Repts of High Water

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725 AM CDT WED JUN 26 2013 THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CHICAGO HAS ISSUED A * FLASH FLOOD WARNING FOR URBAN AREAS AND SMALL STREAMS IN... NORTHEASTERN LAKE COUNTY IN NORTHWEST INDIANA... NORTHERN PORTER COUNTY IN NORTHWEST INDIANA... * UNTIL 130 PM CDT WEDNESDAY/230 PM EDT WEDNESDAY/ * AT 722 AM CDT/822 AM EDT/...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED SLOW MOVING THUNDERSTORMS WITH VERY HEAVY RAINFALL ACROSS THE WARNED AREA. RADAR ESTIMATES OF 1 TO 2 INCHES OF RAINFALL HAS FALLEN IN ABOUT 1 HOUR OVER THE WARNED AREA. * RUNOFF FROM THIS EXCESSIVE RAINFALL WILL CAUSE FLASH FLOODING TO OCCUR. SOME LOCATIONS THAT WILL EXPERIENCE FLOODING INCLUDE...BURNS HARBOR...CHESTERTON...EAST CHICAGO...GARY...HOBART...LAKE STATION...LINCOLN HILLS...PORTAGE...PORTER...SOUTH HAVEN... VALPARAISO...WHEELER...WHITING...BEVERLY SHORES AND NEW CHICAGO.
629 AM CDT WED JUN 26 2013 THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NORTHERN INDIANA HAS ISSUED A * FLASH FLOOD WARNING FOR... NORTHERN LA PORTE COUNTY IN NORTHWEST INDIANA * UNTIL 1230 PM CDT/130 PM EDT WEDNESDAY/ * AT 625 AM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED VERY HEAVY RAIN FROM A CLUSTER OF THUNDERSTORMS OVER THE WARNED AREA. RADAR ESTIMATES OVER THE WARNED AREA SO FAR THIS MORNING HAVE GENERALLY RANGED BETWEEN 3 AND 5 INCHES...WITH AN ADDITIONAL 1 TO 3 INCHES POSSIBLE THROUGH MID MORNING. * LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO SPRINGVILLE...HESSTON...TRAIL CREEK...POTTAWATTOMIE PARK...MICHIGAN CITY AND LONG BEACH
A Flash Flood Watch remains in effect in Northwest Indiana through this evening. 
National Weather Service Severe Weather Summary Page:  http://forecast.weather.gov/hazards/lot
We are getting several reports of high water in northwest Indiana... including US 20... also along Interstate 94 east of the Burns Harbor exit, construction area, down to two lanes, one caller says water's about a foot deep on the interstate in Portage, Burns Harbor area
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Businesses Damaged in Fire

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These photos are of a Valparaiso strip mall damaged by fire.  The mall is on North Calumet Avenue in Valparaiso, north of the five-points intersection.  No word at this hour on what may have caused the fire.
[Photos/Scott Rosenberg]
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Fire at Valparaiso Strip Mall

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Fire broke out at a strip mall on North Calumet Avenue in Valparaiso, damaging multiple businesses, including more than one restaurant.  We are gathering information this morning and will pass it along as it becomes available.
[Photo/Scott Rosenberg]
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I-DNR Finds No Indication of Alligator in Indy

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Indiana Conservation Officers found no indications that an alligator is or has been found in a retention pond in Marion County Tuesday. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources reports an alligator sighting was first reported in the 35-hundred block of DePauw Blvd, in Indianapolis, on June 7th, with two other sightings since that initial report. Officials say while nothing has been found, it doesn't eliminate the possibility one could still be in the pond, and they advise caution and to report if any other sightings. Conservation officers say alligators have been found in Indiana waters in the past, mainly due to people releasing them.
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Lightning Safety Awareness Week (6/23-30)

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In light of recent lightning strikes in the news and in recognition of Lightning Safety Awareness Week (June 23 - June 30), the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)® offers the following tips to keep families reduce their risk of lightning injuries:
Before the Storm
  • Stay alert and listen carefully for the first signs of lightning or thunder. Remember, “If Thunder Roars, Go Indoors™.”
  • Seek shelter. Lightning often hits before the rain begins, so don’t wait for the rain to start before leaving.
If Outdoors
  • Avoid water, high ground and open spaces.
  • Stay away from metal objects including wires, fences and motors.
  • Find shelter in a sizable building or in a fully enclosed metal vehicle like a car or truck. Completely close the windows and don’t lean on the doors.
  • Don’t get under a small canopy, small picnic shelter or near trees.
  • If you cannot take shelter indoors, crouch down with your feet together and place your hands over your ears to minimize hearing damage from the thunder.
  • Stay at least 15 feet away from other people.
If Indoors
  • Avoid water and stay away from doors and windows.
  • Do not use landline telephone or headsets. Cell phones are safe.
  • Turn off, unplug and stay away from appliances, computers, power tools and televisions sets as lightning may strike exterior electric and phone lines inducing shocks to equipment inside.
After the Storm
  • Don’t resume activities until at least 30 minutes after the last lightning strike or thunderclap.
  • Call 911 immediately if anyone is injured and use first aid procedures.
  • Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge, so it is safe to administer medical treatment.

For more information on protecting your home and family from dangerous lightning strikes, visit www.flash.org. For severe weather alerts and mitigation tips, download FLASH Weather Alerts at www.flashweatheralerts.org
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