Storm causes damage in northern Minn.by Conrad Wilson, Minnesota Public Radio
BEMIDJI, Minn. — A powerful storm Monday evening claimed at least one person's life. Thousands of trees were blown over by 80 mph winds and power was cut off to thousands of people in the area.
Chainsaws ran throughout some neighborhoods in Bemidji as people did what they could to clean up the debris. Some homes were damaged, but many that also got lucky. Still surrounded by fallen trees, but somehow spared.
In a neighborhood southeast of downtown, many trees were uprooted. In some cases, tree trunks were snapped like twigs.
Ross Randall spent Tuesday cleaning up two large trees that fell in his yard. He was also still without power.
"I was actually surprised when I came up from the basement and I saw the [power] lines down in my yard and then I looked over and I saw these big trees uprooted," Randall says. "Pretty tough, but we got pretty lucky. Nothing got damaged on our house."
A few blocks away, Monte King also was cleaning up his yard.
"It was pretty scary. There was a lot of wind and almost every tree in our yard blew over," King said.
Citywide, the damage was mostly limited to trees.
It's the worst storm even long time locals have seen, said John Chattin, city manager for the city of Bemidji.
"A lot of time you see a storm and it comes and it hits and it's gone. But it blew and blew for 15, 20 minutes steady... It was up to the curbs in the street with water and the wind blowing, so, it lasted quite a while."
The Itasca County Sheriff's Office reports one death. A man fishing on Swan Lake fell into the water when the storm hit and high winds capsized the boat he was in.
Some residents remain without power. By Tuesday evening, 90 percent of residents in the area were expected to have electricity back on.
Some of Bemidji's parks will take time to recover, Chattin said. But the city's infrastructure was unscathed.
"If anything's positive about this storm, it's that the main damage is downed trees. Infrastructure's fine," Chattin said. "You don't see a lot of damage to buildings."
Trees were downed in Itasca and Beltrami counties and at Itasca State Park.
Robert Chance, the park manager, surveyed the damaged near the headwaters of the Mississippi River that flow from Lake Itasca.
He said park rangers had to use chainsaws to get into some campgrounds.
"After looking at some of the trees that came down and how close they came down to campers and cars it was almost unbelievable we had no injuries," Chance said.
He said park rangers have cleared hundreds of trees around paths and roads.
He said some people left the park because there was damage to their camping gear or their car. But he said the park is booked full for the July 4 holiday and through next weekend.
Workers will continue to clear debris, Chance said. On Monday, the city of Bemidji will send crews around the city to pick up fallen trees.