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Kayla Prasek, Forum Communications, Published July 04 2012

Bemidji residents spend Fourth of July cleaning up damage

BEMIDJI, Minn. – Barbecues and fireworks weren’t on the minds of some Bemidji residents Wednesday.

Rather than celebrating the Fourth of July holiday, some homeowners were still working to clean up from Monday night’s storm.

Steve Carpenter said he was spending his holiday moving trees to the edge of the road for the city to pick up next week.

“We have a greenhouse, and it’s pretty much done for from this,” Carpenter said. “This pretty much closed it down.”

Carpenter said he had yet to go back to the greenhouse to see the extent of the damage.

Carpenter said he had power at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, but his neighbors across the street didn’t have power until Wednesday morning.

Terri Mrazek was helping her neighbor Judy Tobin with clean-up.

Mrazek said she spent about eight hours on clean-up Tuesday and thought she would spend her Independence Day doing something more fun.

Tobin’s sons Chuck and Patrick were repairing her roof until the insurance company could come and inspect it, Mrazek said.

Tobin was in Detroit Lakes camping when the storm hit, she said.

“I didn’t know anything had happened until my neighbor called and told me I had a tree on my roof,” Tobin said. “I drove home that night and my son drove in from Fargo. It was very hectic.”

Tobin said she and her sons put in 12-hour days Tuesday.

“The big project was to get the tree off the house while making sure it didn’t come straight down and ruin the siding,” Tobin said. “We lost one tree from the storm and ended up cutting two more down because they were so damaged.”

Caara Holmstrom, owner of Animal Land, a wildlife park and petting zoo, said she had more than 100 trees down or uprooted but couldn’t start cleanup until her downed power lines were fixed.

“The main thing I want people to know is that all the animals are fine,” Holmstrom said. “All of their cages are fine. I don’t know how. It’s crazy.”

“We actually have power, but all of the lines are on the ground,” Holmstrom said. “The storm also took the back corner of my house and the canvas shed our Bobcat sits in is gone.”

Holmstrom said the business will lose a few days because of the storm, but there won’t be any changes once it’s back up and running.

Holmstrom has excavators coming to move the big trees and plenty of volunteers have offered to help haul branches and rake, she said.

“My goal is to be open by the weekend,” Holmstrom said. “But at the very least we should be back up and running next week.”

Kayla Prasek writes for the Bemidji Pioneer