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Cleaning up after the storm

By Staff | Oct 1, 2018

A wind gust estimated to be 75 to 80 miles per hour tore through the Riverside Town & Country Golf Club course on Thursday night, Sept. 20, snapping off or uprooting between 100 to 120 trees. The toppled trees missed the club house and some parked golf carts.

The fast-moving thunderstorm that hit the area on Thursday evening, Sept. 20, left a trail of destruction in its path.

High winds, some clocked at 75-80 miles per hour and a string of tornadoes caused damage across southern Minnesota.

In Faribault County, the heaviest storm damage was in the area around the Riverside Town & Country Golf Club and the city of Easton.

At the golf course, located on Highway 169 between Blue Earth and Winnebago, there were roughly 100 to 120 trees that were blown down. Some were uprooted while others were cracked off part ways up the tree trunk.

“Besides the trees that are down, there are a good 40 to 50 more trees that will have to come down,” says Mike McNerney, president of the golf club. “They are too banged up and damaged to make it worth trying to save them.”

McNerney said that crews have been working 10 hour days to try and clean up the mess. Most of the workers are volunteers.

“There have been 10 to 15 guys here most days, more on the weekends,” McNerney said. “They are being led by course superintendent Josh Bruellman, who is doing a fabulous job.”

The goal, says the club president, is to have some holes open soon for the members to play on. Green fees play usually closed on Oct. 31 anyway, so the course will not be open to the public until next spring.

“We hope to have holes one through six open soon, along with the two short par threes, so the members can play some this fall,” McNerney says. “But holes seven, eight and nine will be closed the remainder of this year. There are just too many hazards, with widow-makers (loose branches in the tree limbs), to make it safe to play.”

Down the road, the course plans to plant trees in certain areas, but not to the extent of planting 100 new trees,

At Easton, the city also found volunteers to help with the cleanup around town.

The major damage was at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church, where a fierce wind toppled the top of the steeple and sent it crashing to the roof of the main church and then to the ground.

Church leaders have had the church roof and the open top of the steeple covered with plastic, to at least keep out any more rain events.

There also was a large 15-ton crane on site on Wednesday of last week, to remove the steeple piece stuck in the roof.

Church leaders were scheduled to meet with representatives from their insurance company, building inspectors, structural engineers and others this past Thursday, to plan what will be happening next.

The goal, according to one church leader, is to make the building weather-proof for the winter, with actual reconstruction expected to begin next spring.

The small town of Granada, just west of the Faribault County line and in Martin County, was hit by a tornado that went right down one of the city streets, damaging or destroying several homes and businesses.