Upended trees in Diamond Point Park in Bemidji
Norway Beach Recreation Area near Cass Lake
BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Thousands of homes and businesses remained without power Tuesday in the wake of a strong summer storm that toppled thousands of trees in this part of north central Minnesota.
Beltrami County Emergency Preparedness Director Beryl Wernberg said it was too early to release a total count of how many homes sustained damage, but trees were snapped and uprooted across a wide area by the storm that struck Monday night.
Straight winds clocked between 80 and 90 miles per hour raked the area following 30 minutes of sustained rain, which softened the ground. Scores of Otte Tail Power crews fanned out across the area Tuesday, working to restore power.
One of the heaviest concentrations of uprooted trees was in Diamond Point Park on the shore of Lake Bemidji near the campus of Bemidji State University. A steady stream of local residents and vacationing visitors stopped by the park, where 70 trees fell.
"At least 40 of those white pines and red pines were 100 years old," Bemidji Parks Director Marsha Larson told KARE.
"Our people have been down there all day untangling trees, and trying to get them off the pavilion."
The park, a popular spot for watching Bemidji's annual Fourth of July fireworks, will be closed to the public for the foreseeable future.
One of the hardest hit neighborhoods was the Rosby Acres development southeast of the city. Some roads and driveways were still blocked by fallen trees as of Tuesday afternoon. One homeowner said he believed the combination of tree damage and flooding would cause his house to be written off as a total loss.
As the storm traveled east it skimmed across Cass Lake and wrecked havoc on the popular Norway Beach Recreation Area in the Chippewa National Forest. At least 70 campers voluntarily left their spots as soon as forest service workers could cut through the trees that were blocking the roads.
Dennis Hanson of Crookston was among those pulling up stakes and hauling his camper of the park.
"Trees were falling and pine cones were blowing past us like bullets," Hanson recalled. "We road out the first part of the storm inside the camper, but finally had to take cover in one of the shower buildings."
He said a tree crushed one of those shower buildings, but no one was inside.
"Was it scary? I'd say so."
Johnny Angelo of Saint Paul said people in his area of the campground were literally dodging trees.
"One fell on this side of us, and then another fell on the other side of us. One guy got in his truck, and as soon as he moved his truck a tree landed right on the spot he'd been in just a second before!"
Angelo and his son were going to spend the day looking for another place with open camping spots, but -- considering what happened all around them -- he could've been much worse.
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