Clean-up continues after weekend storm in area
ROUND LAKE -- When Merle and Eunice Baumgard began hearing their patio furniture blow across the deck Saturday night, they decided to head for the basement.
Minutes later, following a rather loud crash, they went back upstairs to find a pine tree draped over their deck railing.
It wasn't until morning when they discovered their acreage's landmark -- a giant weeping willow tree -- had also toppled over due to high winds.
Merle Baumgard said the two trees were planted shortly after he built the home 33 years ago.
"I paid $5 for that weeping willow," he said Monday afternoon as he stood near the massive root ball sticking out of the ground.
The Baumgards are hopeful their deck has minimal damage -- it's difficult to tell right now under the disguise of tree branches and green foliage. They'll know more when crews come to remove the two trees on Wednesday.
Toppled trees on the Baumgard site are among the first signs of damage east of the Nobles-Jackson county line. From there, he said some corn fields have been flattened, while tin was ripped from some buildings and, farther south and east, boats were capsized and amusement rides damaged at Arnolds Park and Okoboji, Iowa.
Deb Johnson, an employee of the historic Arnolds Park Amusement Park said Monday afternoon that the park was open, but two of its rides -- the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Spider -- are out of commission after uprooted trees landed on them.
"I don't know if (the Tilt-A-Whirl) is going to be salvageable or not," Johnson said. As for the Spider, two new buckets have already been ordered and could be delivered and installed by the end of this week.
Federated Rural Electric of Jackson reported a major power outage Saturday night, beginning at approximately 10:30 p.m., when four Federated substations (Miloma, West Lakefield, Round Lake and Minneota) were affected by a snapped transmission line pole in Section 32, Rost Township. Crews worked until 11:30 a.m. Sunday to restore power, after answering to many individual outages from downed power lines due to wind, tree branches and broken poles.
To the northwest, in Murray County, campers in the Valhalla Campground had no advanced notice when the storm rolled through, uprooting trees that smashed into camping trailers.
Pam Scholtes, who owns the campground with her husband Lowell, said some campers made it into the bathrooms just before the storm hit, but no one had time to get to the storm shelter.
"We never had any warning," Scholtes said. "The wind came in and the rain and it took down a lot of trees, smashed some campers and some cars."
Despite the damage, there were fortunately no injuries.
"We had people trapped in campers," Scholtes described. "We called rescue because one of the ladies trapped inside was pregnant and we were really worried about her."
Ambulance and fire crews also responded to the scene to help get people out of the wreckage. One of the campers hit had eight people trapped inside, she added.
"They were putting up their awning and it started raining real hard," said Scholtes. "They stepped inside real quick and when they did, the tree fell on the trailer."
At least three trailers were totaled at the campground, and there was considerable damage to several others. One car was totaled, while a Hummer had its windows shattered.
"We lost 20 trees, but we had damage to a lot more," Scholtes said. "It is a beautiful campground, it really is, but it looks different now."
Scholtes said after the storm, people checked all of the campsites to make sure all of the campers were OK. Those that couldn't stay in their trailer were offered lodging elsewhere, while many of those camping in tents decided to pack up and leave that night.
Clean-up at the campground from Saturday night's storm continues, and Scholtes said she wanted to thank the many volunteers who arrived on Sunday to help with the efforts.
"The way everybody pulled together to clean it up the next morning, it was wonderful," she added. "There were people who don't even camp here that came to help -- people that have stayed here in the past."
Donated food was brought in for the workers, and equipment was volunteered as well.
Scholtes said visitors to the campground have used the storm shelter twice already this summer, but "we've never had a storm this bad," she added.