It blew and it blew and it blew –Straight line winds take down trees, power lines, sheds


Bruce Dahl of Calmar pulled over during the storm and felt the truck teetering before toppling over.

by Marcie Klomp

Ruggeberg, Richter, Lewis. Do those names sound familiar? They should. Their farms were hit by the twister that struck just three months ago, on May 22.

Well, they’re in the news again as some of their property was again damaged, this time by strong straight line winds that hit the area on Friday morning, September 2.

The area was awakened by thunder and lightening and rain slamming against their windows around 6:15-6:30 a.m. Sheriff Mike Miner said the radio tower at Cresco clocked the winds at 53 mph, but admitted it was probably closer to 70-80 mph the further west you traveled in the county.

The heavy winds left 70 Dairyland Power poles down along Jade Avenue by Hayden Prairie. The downed poles started at the corner of Jade Avenue and A23. For the next four miles going south, they toppled, just like dominoes. It is ironic that the poles on that same line going north were down after the May 22 tornado.

Ruggeberg: One of the places hit hardest by the storm was the Lee Ruggeberg farm. In May, Ruggeberg barely made it in the house before the tornado took out his big tin shed, barn and grove and damaged his workshop.

After three months of hard work, the family had just got a new shed up and was working on getting the electricity installed when it was shoved off its foundation and flung against the few trees left on the property.

Richter: The Tim Richters had several smaller grain bins damaged in May. This storm buckled one of their bins at the homeplace. Sue said the bin was also knocked off its foundation a little.

Lewis: Mike Lewis had some storm damage from three months ago but received more this go-around. Three of his big bins look like someone smashed a pop can.

Goodman: Brian Goodman had half the roof of his hoop building blown off in the winds. “I didn’t get anything last time, but we did this time,” he observed.

Son Matthew said last July a storm took off the east half of the roof and they got it replaced. This storm took off the west half. He got parental permission to stay home from school that day to help clean up. The family spent the afternoon moving cows from the hoop building to another area of the farm.

Other damage: There were downed trees and other damage all over the area.

~ Riceville and McIntire were almost impassable on Friday morning as branches and trees had fallen all over.

~ Two poles at the Riceville football field were down so their first home game of the season had to be started at 5:30 instead of 7:00.

~ Howard-Winneshiek was two hours late due to fallen trees and downed power lines.

~ A large tree at the Earl Walker residence in Lime Springs fell and blocked off the west end of Main Street.

~ Miner commented that a lot of crops were “knocked over. They had no strength to hold them up.” Many fields have flattened spots in them.

~ The Lime Springs Fire Department was called out to a rollover south of town.

Bruce Dahl of Calmar was driving north on Highway 63 when the storm hit around 6:20 a.m. He drove by the old Tom Beck place and saw the trees laying on their side because of the wind, so he pulled over. “I sat there about a minute and the truck started teeter-tottering and then it fell over,” Dahl said just an hour after the accident.

“I was holding onto the steering wheel and then my legs went out from under me!”

He had an empty load and the wind just blew him over onto the side. He was happy that two semis and a truck stopped to see he was alright.

Miner commented, “If he had stopped 100 yards to the south, he’d have been safe.” The area was unprotected and got the full force of the straight line winds.

~ Almost immediately after the four miles of Dairyland Power poles, on the east side of the road, went down near Hayden Prairie, crews were out trying to fix them.

REC put in temporary poles on the west side of the road. Richter said the family had power by 9:00 Friday night.


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