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Kari Lucin, Forum Communications Co., Published July 12 2011

Monango, Oakes hardest hit by windstorm

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 said. 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 bad 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.

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.

Kari Lucin writes for The Jamestown Sun