Saturday storms rip through Albert Lea

Published 9:04 am Sunday, June 27, 2010

Albert Lea received a lot of tree damage and power lines down from Saturday night’s storm. No injuries have been reported as of Sunday morning.

Many trees were blocking roads and power lines were down throughout town on Saturday night. The severe thunderstorm started to hit the town around 9 p.m. with high winds and heavy rain. The storm moved east quickly from the west side of Freeborn County. Albert Lea Mayor Mike Murtaugh looked at damaged areas with Chief of Police Dwaine Winkels Saturday night and again Sunday morning.

“It is bad but could have been much worse,” Murtaugh said. “I know of one home that had wind damage where a sunroom roof was torn off, otherwise damage seems to be mainly from falling trees.”

Murtaugh asked people without power to conserve water, because areas of town without power were having their sewer lift stations pumped periodically using mobile generators. Using less water helped that effort.

He said he spoke with City Manager Jim Norman and City Engineer Steve Jahnke to make sure the city has the rescues it needs. He said at this point work still needs to be done on downed power lines and getting power back to those without it so city crews can work on clearing streets.

Alliant Energy crews were busy repairing downed power lines all of Sunday.

Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services reported this morning that all power to its areas was restored by Sunday evening.

Winkels said as far as he knows no funnel clouds were seen in the area on Saturday night. The northern half of Albert Lea was hit with a strong gust of wind.

“It went in a straight line through town,” Winkels said.

He said some homes were damaged because of fallen trees. He also said he wished residents would stay away from the damaged areas so city crews can work on cleanup. The downed power lines are also a safety issue, and he doesn’t want anyone to get hurt while trying to drive near damaged areas.

“There’s too much traffic getting in the way of the cleanup,” Winkels said. “The city crews are out working on trees.”

He said as of Sunday morning the northern part of Albert Lea was still without power.

“Again, we’re just fortunate no one got hurt,” Winkels said. “A lot of trees and branches came down but it’s not as bad as previous storms.”

Lightning hit a tree on Riviera Drive near the Albert Lea YMCA. No homes were hit, and no one was injured. Freeborn County Sheriff Mark Harig also said that on Bayview Drive a tree had fallen on the road Saturday night around 10 p.m. and residents had started to cut it up and clear the streets to help get it out of the way.

Brad and Tempest Arends’ home on South Lane in Albert Lea was damaged by Saturday’s storms. Brad was home with his daughter, Emily, and described the high winds as sounding like a freight train.

“Emily and I were playing cards when hail broke our window,” Brad said. “It seemed like 30 seconds went by and the damage was done.”

He said they didn’t hear the trees go down, but in a matter of seconds they looked in their backyard and many were down.