Strong winds and thunderstorms that rolled through the Brainerd lakes area Monday night into Tuesday morning affected several counties, extensively damaged the areas of Longville and Cass Lake and terminated power to 6,500 Crow Wing Power residents — which meant no air conditioning for those people on the hottest week thus far this summer.
Chippewa National Forest officials Tuesday closed the Norway Beach Recreation Area, located five miles east of Cass Lake, until further notice due to extensive storm damage. Closure will take place for Cass Lake Campground, Norway Loop Campground, Chippewa Loop Campground and Wanaki Campground. South Pike Bay Campground also will be closed as the access is blocked by large trees.
Forest service fire crews and staff have been working since Monday night to clear roads and the forest supervisor’s office in Cass Lake also is closed due to the storm and power outage.
“Significant damage was done in the Cass Lake area, the federal campgrounds,” said Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch. “It looks like a bomb went off there. It’s really devastating, but fortunately no one was hurt, a few minor injuries, but that’s it. There were 100-year-old Norway Pines that snapped off and a lot of trees went down. It’s chaotic and the power is still out (as of 4 p.m.). They’re struggling with the heat and there is a lot of clean-up.”
Forest service officials ask that people stay away from the area due to hazard trees.
Burch said the storm also damaged buildings, some homes and vehicles. He said there was a house fire in Cass Lake that started from the storm.
Char Kinzer, Crow Wing Power public relations director, said a tree fell on a transmission line south of Longville knocking out the power to three substations, resulting in 6,500 people without electricity during the early part of the storm.
“Ten crews were immediately called in to handle the problem,” Kinzer said in a press release. “They were able to isolate the problem and back feed electricity from other directions to restore power to the majority. However, there were many other damaged areas that affected neighborhoods and individuals in a variety of geographic areas, mostly in Cass County, but also in Crow Wing County.”
Around 1 a.m. Tuesday, another storm passed through, increasing the amount of damage crews were dealing with. As of 8:30 a.m. Tuesday about 1,500 people were still out power and as of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, about 650 people continued to be out of power.
Crow Wing Power reminds people to stay away from downed lines and report dangerous situations by calling (800) 648-9401.
Don Englin of rural Longville was among those who was still without power at 9 a.m. Monday. Englin, who lives near the Ridgewood Golf Course, said Crow Wing Power representatives told him more than 1,000 customers in the Longville area lost power. The Crow Wing Power person he talked with said she thought a big substation was down.
Englin said not much information was available to him. “Trying to get through (to the power company) is frustrating,” he said.
Crosslake Police Chief Bob Hartman reported that the city had strong straight line winds and lots of rain, including pea size hail. Hartman reported that trees fell down and blocked Birch Narrows Road and Crow Wing County Road (CR) 36 in the area of Bonnie Lakes Road. There also were several trees down along West Shore Drive and a few trees down along Manhattan Point Boulevard, but none blocked the roadway.
Hartman said that power was out for about three hours to the area of CR 36, Bonnie Lakes Road and O’Brian Lake area.
Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office reported a few trees down in southern part of the county by Crow Wing Lake. Trees also were down around county roads 136 and 1; Sagamore Road; CR 2, CR 109 and Horseshoe Lake Road. Morrison and Aitkin sheriff departments both reported minor tree damage.