High winds leave a destructive trail
By Katie Zerr and Stuart Hughes
Mobridge area residents are cleaning up after a Thursday, June 7, thunderstorm that contained a wind gust clocked at 77 miles per hour. The storm tore the roof off a local business and did extensive damage to homes and trees in town.
At about 7:20 p.m. a severe thunderstorm with sustained winds of between 55 to 60 miles per hour hit the city, ripping apart trees, decks, poles and blowing out windows on some homes.
There was damage to several homes in Mobridge, with extensive damage on Kennedy Drive, on the western edge of town and on the outskirts of the city. Roofs were damaged, glass windows were broken and in one case, a deck that faced west was pulled from the side of the house, and blown over the top into the front yard. Other damage included roof damage at the Moose Lodge on West Grand Crossing and some signs were bent by the wind along Railroad Street.
Trees were down across the area with some snapped in half by the wind burst and some were blown over at the roots. Broken branches littered yards, streets and alleyways.
City officials opened the rubble site to help residents get rid of the damaged trees. City Administrator Steve Gasser said Monday the rubble site will be open through Sunday, June 17, to aid in the clean up of damaged trees. Only trees and branches can be disposed of at that site, he said.
Mobridge Police Chief Justin Jungwirth said there were “tons” of calls concerning downed trees and power lines after the storm.
“We had two dispatchers working and I was also taking calls and we were very busy,” he said. “We had no reports of anyone being injured, but there were many reports of downed power lines, tree and roof damage throughout the town.”
At Lucky’s Gas N’ More on West Grand Crossing, part of the building’s roof ended up wrapped around a power pole at Bridge City Bait and Small Engine. Another portion of the roof broke windows in vehicles in the parking lot at KT’s and damaged others.
There was also damage to a gas pump and signs at Lucky’s, but the majority of the business was not damaged and it remained open.
Darryl Schlepp, who was dining in KT’s Fireside at the time of the storm, said it was sudden and ferocious.
“We were eating at KT’s, and then a huge burst of wind picked up and tore the roof off Lucky’s and slammed into KT’s parking lot,” said Schlepp.
Mobridge police, first responders, the Mobridge Ambulance Service and crews from MDU were on the scene quickly. They found no one had been injured during the micro burst by flying debris but there was damage from the high winds.
Jerry Frailing lives adjacent to Bridge City Bait and Small Engine and said he was outside when the roof blew off Lucky’s and slammed into the parking lot of KT’s. Medium sized debris and insulation blew into his yard from Lucky’s damaged roof.
“I’ve lived on the river all my life and never seen it this bad,” said Frailing “The roof flew off Lucky’s and hit a pole in our backyard. There were sparks flying all over the place.”
Lucky’s and KT’s were not the only buildings damaged by high winds. Mobridge’s landmark outdoor theater, the Pheasant Drive-In, received heavy damage. The theater’s screen was blown apart and debris strewn throughout the parking lot. Owner Ron Maier said the screen had been in use since 1960, and that the theater is insured, and he has every intention of re-opening the drive-in.
“The theater has been open for almost 52 years to the day. We have no intention of closing for any longer than it takes,” said Maier.
GF&P Area Parks Manager Dan Sternhagen said the Indian Creek Recreation Area suffered some tree damage, but most of the damage was to camper’s property. He said tents and camper canopies took the brunt of the damage.
“We were really lucky with it (the storm.) It was not like it was in town,” he said.
Three trees were knocked down, including the big tree that shaded the play area. Sternhagen said the tree just missed the play equipment, but did no damage. He said there were a lot of branches down and it took nearly all of the next day for park employees to clean up the area.
Trees across the city were damaged and many power lines were downed. Employees of MDU worked throughout the night to repair the damage to lines and reset poles that were blown over.
Marty Hanson of the Bismarck MDU office said Tuesday that crews answered more than 20 calls for downed lines and damage after the storm.
“We faired pretty well for as bad as that wind was,” he said.
There were three broken power poles, three secondary power lines downed and 20 service lines down (lines that lead to homes.) There was also one circuit knocked out that interrupted service to a large number of customers.
“We had everything pretty much back on by 11:45,” he said. “We still had some work to do the next day, but we had everyone back on that night.”
There was also damage to buildings West River and more than four inches of rain was recorded in White Horse. There was damage to some buildings, trees and some crop damage, but reports were not as extensive as in Mobridge.
There was no reported damage in Pollock, Selby or Java from the Thursday night storm.
On Saturday, the wind and rain returned as another storm passed through. There was some local flooding as about .80 inches of rain fell in Mobridge in less than 20 minutes. There was some tree damage in Selby and Java from this storm. There were reports of heavy hail that damaged crops southwest of Selby.