Update: Extreme Winds Uproot Trees, Damage Property in Itasca County

By KBJR News 1

July 3, 2012 Updated Jul 3, 2012 at 6:30 PM CDT

GRAND RAPIDS, MN (Northland's NewsCenter)---Grand Rapids city officials expect it will take days, even weeks to clean up the aftermath and damage from Monday night's violent and widespread storm.

At its height, 60 percent of the power in Grand Rapids was out.

Community leaders and residents say they're certain it's the worst storm since 1995.

Darrell Iverson says it was the damaging winds, at times reaching 80 miles per hour, that tore through his neighborhood and left a trail of uprooted and broken trees.

"When I heard the crack, I can't explain it, it was just a really load snap," Iverson said. "Then I saw the tree go. First I thought maybe lightening might have struck it, but there was no lightening at the time."

As the storms barreled down on the city through the night, city officials say 1,000 calls came pouring in.

“Power lines wrapped around vehicles where people had driven over live wires and were stranded in their vehicles," Grand Rapids Police Chief Jim Denny said. "Trees were falling on cars."

About 100 trees fell on homes within the city limits.

Clean-up crews are now focused on clearing the roadways of fallen trees and debris and restoring power.

"I think a lot of the trees that came down this time came down with such force, it just ripped everything apart," Mike Crook of Lake Country Power said. "We have a lot of the equipment that's tore right off the poles. It isn't just the wires breaking."

Due to the number of downed trees and power lines officials are recommending limited travel in residential areas.

"Steer clear of any of these power lines," Sherriff Vic Williams of Itasca County said. "Don't go under these suspended trees. A lot of this stuff can be taken care of professionally. If you are going to do it on your private property, we have no control over that, but we ask people to please be careful."

The Itasca County Sherriff’s Office expects to have a preliminary damage and cost estimate by early next week.

"It's going to be an extreme number," Sherriff Williams said.

Anyone who needs assistance after the storm can visit a temporary emergency shelter now open at the IRA Civic Center in Grand Rapids.

Anybody can drop off brush and debris to the Northside of 14th Street Northwest, between 38th and the fairgrounds. Also, West of the railroad tracks on County Road 63.

If you have any questions call the Public Works at 218-326-7481.

Jennifer Walch
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