Monango, Oakes hardest hit by powerful windstorm SundayResidents of these southeast North Dakota towns felt lucky Monday despite the Sunday windstorm that did millions of dollars of damage — no one was hurt or killed.
By: By Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
MONANGO and OAKES, N.D. — Residents of these southeast North Dakota towns felt lucky Monday despite the Sunday windstorm that did millions of dollars of damage — no one was hurt or killed.
Monango and Oakes were hardest hit by the straight-line winds, which uprooted trees, hurled them into homes and shredded metal sheds. Ellendale, Forbes and Fullerton also received damage.
“Basically, we had a 20-minute event that started in Kulm and destroyed our county,” said Charlie Russell, director of emergency management for Dickey County. “The best I can tell, they were just straight-line winds.”
Several reports of rotating clouds were made, but no tornado touchdowns had been confirmed as of Monday evening, Russell indicated. The windstorm cut a four-mile-wide swath from Kulm to Hecla, S.D., flattening crops and knocking over power lines along the way.
Power outages initially struck 2,500 customers of Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative following the storm. By late Sunday, 700 people still had no power, and by Monday evening, that figure was down to approximately 50 people in the Cogswell area, said operations manager Craig Rysavy. More than 40 linemen had been dispatched to reconnect power.
Russell estimated the storm likely cost at least $1 million in agricultural damage alone, and caused at least 10 homes severe damage. At least two of them were a total loss.
Two people from Monango with special medical needs were being sheltered following the storm.
It will likely take at least a month for Monango and Oakes to recover from the storm, Russell said.
As a storm spotter, Russell was out chasing the storm at 4 p.m. Sunday when the weather threatened. He opted to sound the sirens early — between 4:30 and 5 p.m. — well before the clouds had arrived in Dickey County.
“It was picking up my Suburban and throwing it around,” Russell said. “It was just like you had an elephant on the hood.”
When the storm hit, it hit with incredible force, and it took a long time to pass over.
Jerry and Phylis Fossum of Oakes were at home when the storm struck, and ran to warn the tenant who lives on the second floor of their garage. The three went to the home’s basement to wait out the storm.
The house’s door slammed open. Jerry went upstairs to slam it shut again. Through the window, he could see the tree in the back yard rocking back and forth in the heavy wind, as the rain fell in sheets that made even the tree hard to see.
“It was so loud, it was just like sitting by a railroad listening to a train go by,” Jerry said. “I’ve never even been in a storm like this.”
He never heard the noise of the tree in his front yard as the wind tore it from the ground and tipped it onto his 1895 home. Its branches must have poked a hole through the roof, Jerry said Monday, because water had dripped into the couple’s dining room.
The tree was still there, embedded in the roof, Monday evening. But the roof can be fixed, Jerry said.
The same cannot be said of one of Plath Aviation’s buildings in Oakes. The wind peeled off the back of a hangar building used to store two airplanes and tore off a piece of a second building that houses the Plath offices.
“No one got hurt. That’s the main thing,” said James Plath, who bought the business in 2001.
Both buildings are insured. One will have to be replaced — the wind hit it so hard one of the planes inside was turned nearly 180 degrees.
In Monango, trees were hit the hardest and had to be pulled apart and removed.
Most buildings in town were relatively unscathed, though a bar-turned-home had lost its roof and many roofs had lost their shingles.
The Kinzler Rocking K Farm’s elevator, used for farm storage, is a total loss, after the wind tore the top from the building and destroyed several vehicles inside. Owner David Kinzler was uncertain whether the grain inside could be saved.
After the storm struck, emergency services personnel from Ellendale, Edgeley and Oakes were called in, but in their wake came a small army of volunteers — neighbors, friends and family who heard about the storm.
“We know if it was us, they’d be in Edgeley helping us,” said Candi Miller, who turned up with a host of family members to help clean up Monango on Monday.
Helpers sporting chainsaws cut up trees, with more helpers dragging them into piles for removal — by helpers with tractors, all-terrain vehicles and skid-steer loaders.
“There’s a method to the madness!” crowed volunteer helper Dave Hay of Fullerton, as he worked with others to remove fallen trees from Monango’s streets Monday afternoon.
John Henning, who has lived in Monango for two years, lost his Pontiac to the storm.
He and his wife, Bridget Henning, do not have a basement, and they headed to a nearby farm to wait out the storm. Though massive pieces of metal roofing and grain bins littered the town near the Henning house, their home was left intact — and no one was hurt.
“I guess we were lucky,” Henning said.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org