No major injuries reported in tornado

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 2, 2001

GLENVILLE – A massive spring storm in Freeborn and Mower counties Tuesday spawned a tornado that left a trail of destroyed farms, businesses and property in its wake.

Wednesday, May 02, 2001

GLENVILLE – A massive spring storm in Freeborn and Mower counties Tuesday spawned a tornado that left a trail of destroyed farms, businesses and property in its wake.

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The tornado, which touched down on Glenville’s west edge about 7 p.m., tore through the town of about 700 on a path right down Main Street. Utility workers navigated ruptured power and gas lines as police evacuated all residences north of Main Street because of the gas leak, a deputy said.

Glenville residents awoke to heavy rains this morning as police continued blocking off roads into town. Electricity was restored this morning for most customers, Alliant Energy said.

Authorities planned a 3 p.m. meeting today at the high school to brief residents on the situation.

A city official noticed cloud rotation south of Albert Lea as he was leaving work just before 7 p.m., said Albert Lea Police Assistant Chief Dwaine Winkels. Officials had not received notice of a tornado from the National Weather Service, though the entire area was under a tornado watch.

&uot;The tornado was already on the ground and into Glenville by the time we were notified of it,&uot; Winkels said.

Deputy Sheriff Tom Weigel said the tornado may have been accompanied by a second funnel. It also developed very quickly, he said. The sirens gave the community less than 30 seconds warning, he said.

Freeborn County Sheriff Don Nolander said no injuries were reported despite the severe damage to the town’s business district. Authorities set up a command center at Glenville-Emmons High School, which doubled as a shelter for evacuated residents.

To help enforce a curfew and prevent looting, Nolander requested troops from the local National Guard armory in Albert Lea. They arrived just after 1 a.m. to secure a perimeter.

Nolander said 16 fire departments, along with law enforcement officers from several local departments and a host of first responders, began arriving on the scene minutes after the tornado passed through.

&uot;I think there are about 350 firefighters in the county, and at least three quarters are here,&uot; he said. &uot;A lot of them are necessary just to control traffic and onlookers until the National Guard gets here.&uot;

Wednesday classes were canceled at both the high school and the elementary school as a town-wide cleanup began.

According to Mark Rasmussen, Alliant Energy crew foreman, three gas mains in the path of the tornado ruptured, prompting workers to cut electricity and gas to the town. They began a systematic check of all residence lines for leaks.

Rasmusson said repairing the lines took more time than usual because several of the town’s streets were blocked by downed trees.

Chris Schoenherr, an Alliant Energy spokesperson, said large trees and power lines were toppled by high winds along stretches of State Highway 13. To identify and secure damaged lines and make repairs in Glenville, Schoenherr said 25 crews were dispatched to work through the night.

Myrtle, London and Northwood also experienced power outages of an hour or more when the tornado damaged the Glenville substation.

The National Weather Service will determine the force of the tornado over the next few days, Winkels said.