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Babe the Blue Ox in Brainerd topples during severe storms

BRAINERD -- A 6,000-pound famed Minnesota attraction -- known in folklore for its strength -- toppled over during an overnight severe storm early Thursday morning in the region. Babe the Blue Ox, at Paul Bunyan Land in Brainerd, was put back on h...

BRAINERD -- 

A 6,000-pound famed Minnesota attraction -- known in folklore for its strength -- toppled over during an overnight severe storm early Thursday morning in the region.

Babe the Blue Ox, at Paul Bunyan Land in Brainerd, was put back on his feet later Thursday morning.

“It actually tipped over on its side and the wind continued to blow and it rolled him over onto his back and onto his other side,” Adam Rademacher, manager of Paul Bunyan Land, said on WDAY’s “Midday Live with Sandy Buttweiler.” During that whole rolling, it was damaged around the back end. It broke one of his horns off and he has he was impaled by one of the parking lot posts, I’m assuming. There’s a huge hole in his side right now.”

Rademacher said Babe has structural damage inside its 24-foot long frame. Plans are in place to repair Babe, he said.

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Crews using heavy equipment were able to get Babe upright by 9:35 a.m., Rademacher said. The attraction opened at 10 a.m.

Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl reports that as a result of the morning's severe thunderstorms, crews were working to open roads closed by storm debris and restore power..

Also as a result of the severe thunderstorms, the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds sustained damages. Subsequently the fair didn’t open to the public until 1 p.m. Thursday.

In other storm related damage in the system that moved from North Dakota into Minnesota:

-- Tornado sightings, with several area residents catching the events on video, were spotted in northeast North Dakota near Bisbee and Wolford, both located northwest of Devils Lake.  National Weather Service staff were out in the area Thursday to confirm the tornadoes touched down and to survey damage.

“There definitely was a tornado up there, we saw the videos and there was some damage to a farmstead, but no injuries or anything like that,” said Dan Riddle, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Grand Forks office.

-- Several thousand customers were left without power in parts of the Iron Range and northeastern Minnesota on Thursday - exactly two weeks after the region saw widespread damage from a line of severe storms.

For some residents, it was the third time in a month - after storms on July 5 and July 21 - that they had lost power because of severe weather during what’s been a particularly stormy summer of 2016.

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Thursday morning's storms did not produce damage on the scale of the ones that hit on July 21 - but there were a number of trees and power lines down in some parts of the region. The Duluth International Airport recorded a 67 mph wind gust.

"It's funny. I was at the store (Wednesday) looking at a (larger) generator ... but thought, 'What are the chances this storm was going to knock out power again? I can wait.' But I should have bought it while it was staring me in the face, especially when you don't have water," said Bart Ehnes, who lives about 15 miles northwest of Duluth.

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