High winds topple trees

By Chuck Kajer

Residents in New Prague and southern Scott County got an early wakeup call Friday, June 24, when a severe thunderstorm made its way through the area.

Warning sirens sounded in New Prague about 6:15 am., and already by that time, high winds, with gusts estimated at 70 miles per hour, were jostling trees throughout the city. Within five minutes, torrential rains began pouring down on the community, continuing for about 15 minutes.

By the time the storm ended, shortly before 7 a.m, trees and tree limbs were down throughout the community, with some trees entirely uprooted and many more limbs scattered on lawns, houses and vehicles.

There was some structural damage to homes where large trees had fallen. In addition, the high winds destroyed a dugout at the New Prague High School softball field, lifting it up and depositing it on top of a storage shed directly behind the dugout.

It wasn’t long before residents and city crews were around town and the sound of chainsaws could be heard. City crews concentrated on removing trees that had fallen on roadways or were in danger of toppling utility lines. Clarence Ginter was in his yard at the corner of Fourth Avenue (Highway 21) and Fifth Street SW, moving tree limbs into separate piles in several spots in his yard. One large limb rested on top of his natural gas meter, with a small branch caught on the pipe itself. He chose to let it stand until he could get some help removing the limb.

Part of the awning in front of the building at 103 East Main Street was torn from the building and the frame bent. The awning, which advertised a former tenant, ReMax Dynamic Associates, was due to be replaced soon, according to Doug Pint, who purchased the building this spring. Pint’s business, DRP Associates, has its headquarters in the building, along with several other tenants.

Power stayed on in most of the New Prague Utilities service area, with scattered outages as service lines were knocked over by trees. However, in parts of the city served by the Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative, power was out for about 2 1/2 hours. The company reported that about 2,800 people in their service area were without power.

Damage was not confined to the city itself. On Cedar Lake, northeast of New Prague, trees were felled all around the lake. At the Richard Chodek home, on East Cedar Lake Drive, the winds lifted a pontoon boat off the lift and deposited it upside down on the shore. The boat was gone by noontime, but other damage from the storm was visible, with the tops of three large trees snapped off on the trunk.

And further to the east, at the Sackett farm off of Scott County Road 2, the roof was torn off a shed.

No injuries were reported during the storm, which continued eastward into Dakota County. In Farmington, damage was so severe the city declared a state of emergency, with power lines down throughout the city.

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