Heavy rains Sunday night collapsed part of the roof of Falls Cinema in Little Falls, damaging a storage and mechanical room and sending about 20 people running for the exits.
The thunderstorm also flooded Pete and Joy's Bakery in Little Falls, leaving behind about 5 feet of water and a coating of mud in the basement of the bakery.
Falls Cinema owner Peter Schoell said a 10- by 40-foot roof section in the rear of the theater caved in about 9:40 p.m., during a screening of "The Hulk." The force of the rushing water and collapsing roof caused the movie screen to push toward theater patrons, and it blew the front doors open, Schoell said.
"They said it was a pretty exciting special effect when the screen came falling toward them," said Schoell. There were no injuries in the collapse, but about $8,000 in sound equipment and supplies were damaged.
The National Weather Service reported between 6 to 7 inches of rain fell in Little Falls late Sunday and today. That much rain on a roof designed to hold water from falling into the back alley was what caused the collapse, Schoell said.
Though two other movie screens in the theater weren't damaged by the collapse, Falls Cinema was closed today while a contractor assessed the building, Schoell said. He hoped to have the other two screens running Tuesday.
The dollar amount of damage to the theater is unknown, Schoell said. He just signed with a new insurance company Friday, and had to call his agent Sunday to make sure his policy was in effect.
"I have a surprise for the new company, I'm afraid," said Schoell.
Joy Kamrowski, owner of Pete and Joy's Bakery, said street repairs being done alongside her business probably contributed to the flooding in two of the businesses' buildings. In one building the flood water washed out a wall and in both buildings the rising water left behind a layer of mud.
"Everything is destroyed," said Kamrowski. "It was incredible."
The city of Little Falls pumped the water out of the bakery's basement and built a dike to protect the property. Kamrowski said an insurance assessor will evaluate the property today.
While Little Falls received the brunt of the thunderstorm that moved across much of the state Sunday and today, several areas received more than two inches of rain and in southern Minnesota there were reports of storm damage.
The DNR reported about 2.40 inches fell at the Brainerd office, and about 2 inches of rain fell at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.
Despite the strong thunderstorm that swept across the area, Crow Wing County law enforcement agencies reported little damage. In Crosslake, a cabin suffered moderate damage after being struck by lightning, the Crosslake Police Department reported.
Both Crow Wing Power and Brainerd Public Utilities reported only minor power outages were caused by the rain and lightning.
In western Minnesota, what apparently was a small tornado briefly touched down four miles southwest of Glenwood around 7:50 p.m. Sunday, National Weather Service meteorologist Byron Paulson said.
Pope County Sheriff Tom Larson said the twister apparently skipped over a couple of cabins on Lake Minnewaska. No one was in the cabins at the time, and no one was hurt.
"The rain was so heavy you couldn't see anything," Larson said Monday.
A camper was damaged when some branches fell on it, he said.
Lightning struck a couple of homes in nearby Douglas County, Deputy John Braseth said. The lightning caused a small fire in an attic in Garfield, but it was quickly put out, he said.
Alexandria had minor flooding in streets and some basements.
Thunderstorms remain in the forecast throughout the rest of the week, the National Weather Service in Duluth reported. A flood watch is in effect for central Minnesota, and there is a chance for heavy rain and severe thunderstorms this afternoon and tonight.
(This story contains information from the Associated Press.)
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