homepage logo

Storm shows strength of community

By Staff | Jun 22, 2014

Well, where were you when the typhoon hit Monday night in Blue Earth and the area?

I know right where I was.

At the Blue Earth City Council meeting.

The meeting started at 5 p.m. and was progressing nicely. Except that a little while before 6 p.m. all heck broke loose. Screaming winds, rain coming down sideways in torrents and even a little hail.

The storm did not deter the council from continuing with their business. While I was getting texts about thunderstorm warnings, tornado watches and alarms saying seek shelter, the Blue Earth City Council kept right on task.

Until the power went off.

That meant the meeting was no longer being recorded, and that lack meant the meeting had to be called off. Or at least continued to a time when the lights would be on.

When the storm abated just enough to allow everyone to leave the City Hall, most people scrambled for cars and a quick passage home. I went out to see what the storm was doing to the town.

It didn’t take me long to see what was happening.

A huge tree was blown down across the Sixth and Nicollet streets intersection. Another tree had blown down onto the gazebo and a picnic table at Gazebo Park.

A quick drive around town revealed many downed trees and so many tree limbs and branches they were uncountable.

And, it was still storming.

Power was out around town and the wind was still howling.

A dedicated city crew was out trying to move branches out of the middle of streets and also unplugging storm drain covers, covered in debris.

One of the worst spots was right in my neighborhood. A house at the intersection of 10th Street and Nicollet Street had two trees lying across the roof. They had smashed into the house itself.

Chase and Tomarah Brandt and their two children, Kyannah, 4, and Karsyn, 2, were all at home when the storm started. Right when the winds were at their top speed of an estimated 80 miles per hour, they heard the tremendous crash when half a tree split and landed on their roof.

They think they are lucky that it happened early in the evening. You see, the largest limb fell right on their daughter’s bedroom on the top floor, and on their bedroom on the main floor.

Luckily, no one had gone to bed yet.

The Brandts are very proud of their daughter, who kept her two-year-old brother calm and told him everything was going to be alright.

He was a little freaked out. But, then, they were all a little scared.

On Tuesday, they, like many others, were busy trying to clean up. But unlike others, they needed help and called Huston Tree Service. It took their crew all day Tuesday and part of Wednesday to get the trees cut up and hauled away. Nyle Huston says he trimmed a huge limb off that tree a few years ago and he is glad he did. If the full tree had still been there, it would have literally crushed the house with the family inside.

Tuesday night Randy Anderson of Anderson Electric was trying to hook their power back up. Their whole electrical hookup had been torn out by the trees.

Then Chase’s father showed up and the two of them put a tarp over the gaping hole in the roof and side of the house.

Through it all, the young couple was smiling and taking the whole ordeal in stride. “What else are you going to do,” Chase said. “We are all fine. That is what is important.”

Tomarah was even videoing the whole tree removal work.

Their ordeal helped me put some things in perspective.

There was a lot of damage in Faribault County from the storm. Trees were uprooted, machine sheds destroyed, crops were damaged. But no reports of serious injury or death.

The Brandts consider themselves lucky because no one in their family was hurt, just scared.

Not like in Nebraska where a child was killed in a tornado on Monday night.

It is part of keeping it all in perspective.

Trees blown down, buildings wrecked, half the county was a big mess.

But, let’s face it. It could have been worse. A lot worse. No one was killed. No one was even injured.

We were all able to get up the next day and go to work cleaning up the storm damage.

It’s hard to think of that as a blessing. But, it is.

Just ask Chase and Tomarah.