Hollandale area hit hard with tornado damage

Published 10:55 am Friday, June 18, 2010

Rural Hollandale resident Matt Luna has lived in his home for 48 years.

But on Thursday night, almost all of his possessions and many of his memories literally went up in the air or got destroyed.

“It’s devastating,” said Matt Luna. “I’m still in shock, total utter shock.”

Email newsletter signup

Luna’s home, at 29464 925th St., north of Hollandale, was on the warpath of one of Thursday night’s tornadoes.

This tornado touched down just north of Hollandale, damaging homes on 290th Street before moving northeast passing 825th Avenue and 300th Street where Hilltop Greenhouse & Farm was badly damaged.

Luna, along with friends and family, surveyed the damage with flashlights Thursday night and again early Friday morning.

Much of the house’s roof was destroyed as was a back portion of the home and most of the windows. Cars in Luna’s driveway were blown into a field, and multiple trees were uprooted. Three boats and a trailer were missing, and his storage sheds were destroyed.

The walls of his home that were still standing had the brick-red colored siding partially ripped off.

“We never ever thought there’d be one coming through here,” he said. “You can’t believe it will happen to you.”

On Thursday night, Luna pointed out a few keepsakes on the lawn, including the boots to a Santa suit he wears during the Christmas season. He recalled the memories he’s had at the house, including bonfires, picnics, volleyball tournaments, snowmobiling and raising animals.

Right before the storm hit, Luna said he walked outside briefly to check the weather. Luna saw a thick black cloud to the southwest heading toward a neighbor’s home, and he quickly moved his family to the basement.

“We got into the basement and held each others’ hands down there,” Luna said.

“We hung onto each other as tight as we could.”

He was with his three children, ages 17, 18 and 19 and his daughter’s boyfriend. His daughter was able to grab her dog but one other dog didn’t make it down to the basement.

They found it alive after the tornado passed.

No one was injured.

“We don’t have anything, but at least we’re safe,” Luna said.

He estimated it took 15 or 30 seconds for the tornado to pass “and boom it was gone,” he said.

The path of the tornado was evident Friday morning as the fields where the storm went through were brown and crops were flattened or destroyed.

Nearby, at 82329 290th St., the Jeff Ravenhorst family farm was also destroyed. Prior to Thursday, the farm had been outfit with a home, farmyard and other machine sheds.

Trees near the farmyard were sheared, cars were crushed and debris was littered across the field.

Family members of the owner of the farm declined to comment Thursday night as they were out searching through the debris for any personal possessions.

Mower County sheriff’s deputy John Bachman said he saw two dark funnels drop on 860th Avenue north of 285th Street. After that, a wall of wind and debris came through.

“It’s complete and utter devastation,” Bachman said, looking at the farmyard. “It’s Mother Nature at her worst.”

Despite the damage, Hollandale Assistant Fire Chief Bob Slegh called this city fortunate compared to other cities in Freeborn County, in that there were no injuries and no fatalities.

Power lines were down — forcing the closure of State Highway 251 between Clarks Grove and Hollandale.

Power was out in town most of the night, but was restored in the rural areas around town early Friday morning.

Capt. Bob Pike of the Hollandale First Responders said there were several tornadoes that passed through the Hollandale area.

One sight baffled volunteer firefighters on 290th Street less than a mile southwest of Luna’s. Next to a destroyed farmhouse, a softball trophy landed upright on the branch of a tree in the middle of the gravel road.