Local communities helping with storm cleanup

Published 2:27 pm Tuesday, March 7, 2017

GENEVA — A strong storm on Monday left local residents cleaning up the mess on Tuesday. Community members are working together to ensure a full recovery.

A pig finishing site east of Geneva that houses 2,100 pigs was destroyed in the storm.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve never seen (anything) like this,” said livestock owner Tom Beenken.

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No pigs were killed from the damage.

“We need to find homes for them,” Beenken said. He estimated damage at $850,000, and he was not confident the site could be rebuilt. According to Beenken, insurance will cover the damage cost.

Structures used to house livestock were damaged in Geneva during Monday’s storm. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Beenken said he was surprised at the timing of the storm that was made possible by high humidity and record-high temperatures of near 70 degrees.

“We’re supposed to be getting snow this time of year,” he said. “We’re still supposed to be getting snow, not tornadoes.”

Visible damage was also sustained to the roof of a nearby barn.

The storm brought heavy rain, winds and hail in some parts of Freeborn and Faribault counties.

Geneva resident Jeff Wayne said he lost a tree in the storm. Possible hail damage was sustained to the roof.

Wayne remembered being inside with his wife when the winds increased and the power went off.

“Usually you don’t have to worry about this,” he said. “We might have to worry about a blizzard on March 6, but we should never have to worry about a tornado.”

Debbie Oakland, whose two daughters were in Clarks Grove at the time of the storm, said they called her on Monday crying because a previously-set fence was flying in the wind. Oakland remembers driving to Clarks Grove and seeing a jackknifed semi.

A number of downed trees and tree limbs could be seen throughout Geneva on Tuesday morning follwing Monday night’s storm. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

“There were wires down,” she said. “The town is a disaster. The elevator — parts were flying, landing in people’s roofs.”

According to Oakland, her future son-in-law’s trailer was wrapped around a tree. Clarks Grove’s hardware store sustained heavy damage.

She planned to volunteer by cleaning and packing in Clarks Grove after finishing her shift at Geneva Bar & Grill.

“When I get done I am going to help the whole town,” she said. “You gotta help what you can do. I mean, they are neighboring towns.

“It’s a community. You all work together to help each other. Even if your house is not that bad, someone else’s is worst. They can’t do it alone.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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