September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Storms ravage the state

Straight-line winds, hail, rain damages buildings, fields across Minnesota
Corn fields were destroyed by a storm the evening of June 14 that produced golf ball sized hail and straightline winds near the Kenyon, Minn., area.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY KRISTA M. SHEEHAN
Corn fields were destroyed by a storm the evening of June 14 that produced golf ball sized hail and straightline winds near the Kenyon, Minn., area.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY KRISTA M. SHEEHAN

By By Krista M. Sheehan- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

WANAMINGO, Minn. - As the Friese family prepared for the Minnesota State Holstein Show on June 23 and a June Dairy Month lunch event on their farm the following week, they did not expect a storm to set them back.
"It's a mess. There's debris everywhere," Becky Friese said about her family's farm.
Friese and her husband, David, milk 75 cows near Wanamingo, Minn. Their farm, Rodash-View Holsteins, suffered damage from a storm that passed through the evening of June 14. Many buildings in the area were damaged and crops were destroyed.
At about 7:10 p.m., part of the Friese family was preparing for evening milking when the storm hit.
"We lost electricity. Then it was a white out with the hail and high winds," Friese said. "The lawn was just white. It looked like winter here."
When it ended and they were able to assess the damage, the Frieses found the roof torn off their feed room and part of their barn. Many trees were twisted, snapped and uprooted, with some falling on machinery. Calf domes were smashed, found in the pasture and stuck in trees 40-feet high.
Immediately, friends and neighbors came to help put things back together. They first took horses and four-wheelers out to look for animals that had escaped the downed fences. Then cleanup began.
"We had people here to help clear all the debris just so we could get to the barn," Friese said.
During this time, others were working on getting a generator so they could get the herd milked. On their third generator, they finally had enough power for the lights and the bulk tank. Starting at midnight, they used two portable milkers to milk the cows, working until they finished at 6 a.m.
"We have a lot of good neighbors and they just kept helping through the night," Friese said. "But it will be a lot of work to clean this up over the next few weeks."
A few miles away, Gene Bang was also cleaning up from storm damage on his farm. Thankfully, there was no damage to his barn. Many large trees fell in the pasture and the front lawn, some landing on the power lines. The next morning, Bang was still using a generator to milk his 40-cow Ayrshire herd.
"The forecast had said it would just be a little bit of rain, but we weren't expecting all the wind. And it wasn't just a little bit of rain. It hit and it hit fast and hard," Bang said.
Neighbors also came to Bang's farm with skidloaders, tractors and chainsaws to clear the trees and debris.
"It was at least straight line winds, but it might have been a tornado," said Bang, whose farm received about three to four inches of rain that evening.
Three days later at about 9 p.m. on June 17, Grove City, Minn., took the brunt of a storm, which produced 3.5 inches of rain and straight-line winds of about 110 miles per hour according to the authorities.
"We were in the heart of it," Greg Jans said about his dairy, where he milks 800 cows.
Jans said fortunately, there were no buildings on his farmsite that were down; however, they had other damaged.
Jans lost four cows that were out on pasture. Trees were uprooted.
"I think about half the trees in the township aren't here anymore," Jans said. "There were even over 100-year-old Cottonwoods that were easily uprooted. There was a lot of force behind this storm.
About 120 of the farm's calf hutches flew around, many of which hit the barn.
"That caused a lot of damage," Jans said. "We were up most of the night trying to catch all the calves."
Three field irrigators tipped over.
"That's probably the most expensive part of everything. I know I'll probably need water in about three weeks so we have to get going on that," Jans said.
Although the farm was out of electricity for two days, their backup generator came in handy.
"I'm glad we had it. It kicked in right away," Jans said.
Overall, Jans said his farm was fairly lucky when it came to building structure damage. Eight turkey barns one-half mile down the road weren't so lucky. All of them are gone said Jans.
"I've never experienced a storm like this before," Jans said.
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