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Tammy Swift and Jessica Ballou, Published July 11 2011

Windstorm tears through southeastern North Dakota; tornadoes spotted near Oakes, Ashley

FARGO – A vicious windstorm bulldozed through southeastern North Dakota on Sunday evening, bringing heavy rains, some tornado sightings and wind gusts as high as 80 miles per hour.

Residents of McIntosh, Dickey, Sargent and Richland counties in North Dakota reported power lines down, hundreds of trees damaged, crop damage and roofs blown off sheds and a mobile home.

Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative, which serves rural residents throughout southeastern North Dakota, reported extensive electric outages that could take 24 hours to restore.

“Most substations are down as the transmission lines feeding them are also out of power,” spokeswoman Kathy Rysavy said.

Crews will work late into the night to restore power as soon as possible, Rysavy said.

The area hardest hit by outages stretched from Kulm through Edgeley and Oakes and into Wyndmere and Mooreton.

In McIntosh and Dickey counties, tornado sightings were reported near Ashley and Oakes. Also in Oakes, sheds and grain bins were blown down.

In Sargent County, Derek Martinson, who lives between Milnor and Delamere, reported alfalfa bales blown across fields, trees down everywhere and the office roof blown off the Five Star Dairy in Delamere.

Richland County also sustained considerable damage, especially in the southern half.

“We got hit pretty good,” said Wally Wittenburg, whose home is right on the edge of Wyndmere in Richland County.

Authorities reported that Highway 18 west of Wyndmere was blocked after a large tree fell across power lines. Brett Lambrecht, emergency services manager for Richland County, reported problems with that area’s sanitary system because of the outages.

“They’re warning people to stay away so they can try to get the power back on,” Wittenburg said. “It’s a mess.”

Wittenburg said the area received 3 to 4 inches of rain in about an hour and that ditches were filled with water.

Authorities also reported extensive wind damage, including 250 to 300 trees down in the Wyndmere area. Wittenburg had driven west of town and found corn, originally standing 4 to 5 feet high, blown over by the wind. He also had heard of a man losing the roof from his sheep barn.

Also in Richland County, there were reports of quarter-sized hail near Hankinson.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525

Downed lines

Residents who see downed power lines in Richland, Ransom or Sargent counties should stay away and call Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative to report them, (800) 342-4671.