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Tornadoes or high winds? Either way, damage stretches across the tri-state area

Farms, communities from Ellsworth to St. Killian see damage in Nobles County.

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A broken window leads to a glimpse inside a machine shed on the Cody Bullerman farm south of Adrian Monday afternoon. The west half of the building is nearly gone, as well as a large share of the north wall.
Julie Buntjer / The Globe
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ADRIAN — Whether it was straight-line winds or tornadoes that rolled through Nobles County during the early morning hours on Memorial Day Monday, the damage left in the storms’ wake will have people cleaning up debris for days.

Despite the weather, Monday morning's Memorial Day Service proceeded with only minor alterations.

It was about 2:20 a.m. Monday when the storm hit south of Adrian, doing damage to two homes, a hog barn and numerous trees on the Cy Lonneman and Sons farms. The families were alerted to the approaching storm when their cell phones sounded a warning alert.

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Tin and 2x4 rafters littered farm fields for nearly two miles east of the Cy Lonneman & Sons pig nursery barn after a storm rolled through the area around 2:20 a.m. Monday, May 30, 2022. None of the approximately 2,000 head of pigs in the barn were killed.
Julie Buntjer / The Globe

Chad Lonneman, along with his wife, Kris, and their one-year-old daughter went directly to the basement, where Chad’s dad, Jerry Lonneman, said they heard what sounded like a siren outside. When it was over, Chad looked out at the darkened sky to see tin scattered about their yard.

“The siding on the west and north side of the house was ripped off,” Jerry said. And the tin Chad saw in the yard was from their 2,000-head nursery pig barn about a half-mile to the west.

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Jerry Lonneman waits in the truck as 40-pound pigs are loaded on a trailer from the 2,000-head nursery barn on their site just west of Minnesota 91, south of Adrian Monday afternoon, May 30, 2022.
Julie Buntjer / The Globe

The barn lost over half of its roof, but all of the 40-pound pigs inside were miraculously OK. Two other barns on the site had no damage.

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“When the electricity went off, we have alarms in the barns and the generators all start,” Jerry said.

In need of a place for the 2,000 pigs to go, Jerry said they called around to processing plants Monday morning, and were able to get six loads of market-ready hogs into a plant to make room in one of their finishing barns for the younger pigs.

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A Harvestore silo suffered extensive damage on its west side in the storm that hit south of Adrian in the 2 a.m. hour Monday, May 30, 2022. This silo is located on one of the Lonneman farms east of Minnesota 91.
Julie Buntjer / The Globe

Load by load, all of the young pigs were transitioned to the finishing barn on Monday. Jerry said they finished hauling the last load by 6 p.m.

Debris from the nursery barn was scattered in farm fields for approximately two miles to the east, and Jerry said it’s too wet to get into the fields to remove the tin and “a boatload” of 2x4s.

“We are thankful for the neighbors and friends that came and helped — and offered to help,” Jerry said. On Monday, they concentrated on cleaning up Chad’s home site, piling up the tin and doing what they could. The downed trees will be dealt with when the ground dries up a bit.

Confinement building damaged by High winds North of Ellsworth Minnesota and just east of Highway 91  Monday.
A hog confinement building owned by Nick Nolte, north of Ellsworth, Minnesota, suffered extensive damage in the early Monday morning storm.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

East of Chad Lonneman’s place, another Lonneman site saw damage to the house — including a tree branch that was driven through the steel siding — and a huge dent in the top half of a Harvestore silo.

The Lonneman sites are on either side of Minnesota 91, and following the highway southwest toward Ellsworth showed a path of destruction including mangled groves, destroyed buildings and downed power lines.

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Mangled and tangled in is scattered across the lawn and in the trees on one of Cody Bullerman's farms south of Adrian Monday afternoon.
Julie Buntjer / The Globe

Cody Bullerman was working to get power restored on one of his sites Monday afternoon as they worked around downed trees and debris scattered about the farmyard.

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Bullerman and his family live two miles straight east of the farm that was hit with what he believes was a tornado. While their home place had five garage doors blown in and tin rolled back on two of the cattle barns, it paled in comparison to the damage they experienced when the place was hit by a storm 10 years ago.

Still, Bullerman has a lot of clean-up to do, particularly at his site along Minnesota 91. With Monday being a holiday, clean-up was minimal. He wanted to wait for the insurance adjuster on Tuesday before beginning the rest of the clean-up.

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A machine shed on one of Cody Bullerman's farmsites took a direct hit by the storm that rolled through in the 2 a.m. hour Monday morning, May 30, 2022.
Julie Buntjer / The Globe

Less than half of what was a machine shed remains standing there, and a smaller shed next to it is completely gone. The roof was taken off the silo, a white picket fence is leaning against trees, tin is mangled and tangled around items in the yard and the trampoline and swing set — well loved by his wife’s daycare children — were carried to the other side of the yard.

The barn, which houses some pigs and chickens for the daycare kids to enjoy, had only minimal damage with some tin taken off of the roof.

All in all, Bullerman is thankful no one was hurt in the storm. They, too, were awakened by their phones and went to the basement immediately.

High winds blew over trees at the Randy Buntjer residents North of Ellsworth Minnesota on Hwy 6.
High winds blew over trees at the Randy Buntjer residence north of Ellsworth, Minnesota on Nobles County 6.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

“It was loud; it was windy, there’s no doubt about that — stronger than normal wind,” Bullerman said. He believes it was a combination of tornadoes and straight line winds that created the path of destruction between Ellsworth and Adrian. As for rain, he had an inch and a half in his rain gauge.

“We can use the rain,” he said.

They could have done without the wind.

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While farmers worked primarily on their own or with the help of family and friends, a community of volunteers came out to help with the clean-up in Rushmore. There, Cooperative Farmers Elevator lost its roof, as did a mini-storage facility. Numerous trees were either uprooted or snapped, and power lines were down throughout town.

The city of Rushmore was barricaded to visitors until the debris was cleared.

Joyce Jacobs, Nobles County Auditor-Treasurer and resident of Rushmore described the scene.

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Windows on this Rushmore home were blown out, and the deck was destroyed, in the storm that passed through Nobles County early Monday morning.
Joyce Jacobs

“Our neighbors have a tree on their roof, and another neighbor had windows go in the front, and deck damage,” she said.

“Crews (composed primarily of local firefighters) have been by and cleaned up quite a bit already,” Jacobs said just before 1 p.m. Monday. “They had some of their kids with, and that was really great to see.”

Crews remove downed trees on 2nd St. in Rushmore Minnesota from severe  thunderstorms early am hours Monday morning.
Crews remove downed trees on Second Street in Rushmore, Minnesota, after severe storms came through the community in the early morning hours Monday, May 30, 2022.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

Jacobs and her husband, Randy, were awakened early Monday morning when their cell phones sounded alarms about the approaching storm. The tornado siren sounded twice in the community.

“From what we’ve heard, there are no injuries — and hopefully by the time we get done cleaning up, there will still be no injuries,” Jacobs said.

Lonneman, too, was thankful that no one was hurt.

Thompson Ave. S in Rushmore Minnesota blocked off due to severe thunderstorms damage to roofs trees and power lines early Am hours Monday morning.
Thompson Avenue South in Rushmore, Minnesota, was blocked off due to storm damage to roofs, trees and power lines in the early morning hours Monday, May 30, 2022.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

“We had enough damage, but it could have been a lot worse,” he said. “The big thing is nobody got hurt — that’s the No. 1 thing.

“The REA did a tremendous job to get the power restored as quick as they did,” he added.

Nobles Cooperative Electric reported having more than 20 transmission poles downed on the line that delivers power to Ellsworth and impacting the cooperative’s southernmost service territory. According to its Facebook page, the southwest one-third of Ellsworth was still without power Monday night, and due to “such extensive damage” it was doubtful it would be restored before 10 p.m.

Nobles Cooperative Electric replacing power poles and repairing lines Monday afternoon along Hwy 91after severe storms hit the Ellsworth and Rushmore area in the middle of the night.
Nobles Cooperative Electric replaces power poles and repairs lines Monday afternoon, May 30, 2022, along Minnesota 91after severe storms hit the Ellsworth, Adrian and Rushmore area in the middle of the night.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

“Crews have been working around the clock,” the Monday night post stated, adding that work would begin again at 6 a.m.

The National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, initially suspected straight-line winds as the cause of damage in Nobles County, with wind speeds clocked in excess of 100 miles per hour. On Tuesday, however, the office reported that it has teams on the ground to survey the damage, and they will be working their way out in all directions due to the extent of damage reported and the numerous tornado warnings issued in the tri-state issue on Monday.

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Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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