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Eastern Minnesota Communities Clean Up After Day Of Storms: 'The Devastation Was Too Much To Take In'

Originally published on May 9

CENTER CITY, Minn. (WCCO) -- Storms pulled through Minnesota in two rounds Monday, bringing with them large hail and strong wind gusts.

The southern end of Chisago County was hit the hardest, with downed power lines, uprooted trees and ripped-up sheds left in the storm's wake. Straight-line winds came through the northeastern lake towns of Center City, Shafer and Lindstrom at about 10:30 a.m., uprooting giant trees across the area.

When the storm came through, the winds came right over South Center Lake. A giant, red Adirondack chair -- a photo op spot for people who drive through town – wound up on the other side of the lake, right up to Steve Nelson's shoreline. The winds also took down one of his big trees.

Nelson says he was outside when the storm suddenly picked up, and he got inside just in time.

"I was down here raking this morning before the storm came, and all of a sudden the storm was here and I just had raked over here and I had just walked away when that thing went down [laughs]!" Nelson said.

There were no reports of trees landing on any homes, but a lot of them landed on power lines, causing mass outages in the area.

A tree knocked down the entire row of power lines in front of Chisago Lakes High School, causing the building to lose power, and forcing the district to cancel school for the remainder of the day. WCCO spoke to some students who were in class when the storm blew through.

"I was actually performing a play … all of a sudden I hear some kid go, 'A tree just fell down!' mid-class, and then we're like, 'Oh, there goes a powerline, too!'" said student Lucas Walton.

"We could kind of sense the storm brewing a little bit … and it just picked up really fast," said student Henry Johnson.

"I heard a loud, like, bang noise because one of the garage doors actually caved in in the wood shop," said student Xavier Taylor.

This storm was a shock to the system for many in this lakes area, as just 24 hours earlier the weather was beautiful and many were putting their boats in for the first time this season.

The Chisago County Sheriff's Office says there were over 60 storm-related service calls from across the area in just four hours. Fortunately, there are no reports of any injuries.

Chisago County Storm Damage
(credit: CBS)

"Shocking" Storm Damage In Taylors Falls

In the second round of storms to roll through Minnesota and western Wisconsin Monday evening, much of the resulting damage was concentrated in communities along the borders, including Taylors Falls.

Few words describe the destruction Dan Brown and his wife rushed home to during their work day.

"I saw the pictures, but when I rolled up here myself the devastation was too much to take in, it was shocking," Brown said. "The first two words out of her mouth, I can't repeat now."

Their home was built in 1869, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

"We've lost over 26 fully-matured pines that surround the property," he said.

Some toppled in a perfect row, while others took a slice out of their back porch.

"The adjacent properties have minimal damage, so lucky us," Brown said. "For one storm to come through and do all this damage is pretty remarkable."

The small town, like many in eastern Minnesota, lost power during the storm that brought heavy rain, hail and wind.

"It came through and went real fast," said Lakes Area Police Department Chief Bill Schlumbohm. "We probably had two, three minutes of hail and then it moved on really fast."

The quick break in rain was long enough for Hannah LaRowe to catch a 60-inch sturgeon in the St. Croix River.

"It's our 13th anniversary," said Levi LaRowe. "She wanted to get her sturgeon. She got her sturgeon!"

Though the next round of storms cut their date short.

"The sirens are going off and we figured we'd get out of there before it started downpouring [laughs!]" Hannah LaRowe said.

The power is still out in much of Taylors Falls late Monday night.

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