Hubbard County: Cleanup continues following tornado
Clean-up efforts continued through the weekend in the aftermath of at least one tornado touchdown Friday, Hubbard County officials said Saturday.
While the storm path is believed to have traveled from the Wadena area, through Park Rapids and to north-central Hubbard County at Emmaville, the most damage appears to be near Emmaville.
A command post has been established at the Lake Emma Town Hall, involving numerous local, state and federal agencies, David Konshok, Hubbard County emergency management director, said a joint statement from his office and the Hubbard County Sheriff's Department.
"Numerous local government and volunteer organizations are providing clean-up assistance about 7 miles north of Park Rapids in an area around Pickerel Lake," Konshok said. "Homeowners and volunteers are in the process of reclaiming personal property and starting the recovery process."
The National Weather Service continues to survey damage to determine how many tornadoes may have struck the area, and at what strength. It did, however, confirm at least one tornado touched down in central Hubbard County.
"The National Weather Service is assessing damages to determine the strength and path of the tornado," Konshok said. "Other areas of damage occurred in the county, including in and around the Hinds Lake area in south Hubbard County."
An apparent tornado touchdown leveled eight barns at a Jennie-O Turkey Store farm earlier Friday, killing thousands of turkeys, according to media reports, and sending one worker to the hospital where he was treated and released.
There were no other injuries reported from Friday's storm through Hubbard County.
Volunteers are needed to help with tree removal, he said,, but they must register at the Lake Emma Town Hall command post.
"Volunteers can begin to register at 9 a.m.," he said. "Volunteers must be 18 or older (16 if accompanied by a parent), know how to operate a chainsaw, and must have their own boots (steel-toed preferred), long pants, long sleeved shirt, leather work gloves, headgear, insect repellant and sunscreen."
Konshok also recommends that anyone with damage should contact their local insurance agent as soon as possible. Residents must also contact Gopher One toll-free at 1-800-252-1166 if they plan to dig or remove stumps in order to avoid underground pipes and cables.
"Donations are not needed at this time and are not being accepted at this time," Konshok said. "We thank everyone who has been involved and assisted us in any way."
Staffing the command post are the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office and Emergency Management Office, Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state Department of Natural Resources and National Weather Service Grand Forks Office.
Meanwhile on Friday, other Hubbard County authorities were attempting to find out why they weren't notified of the impending potential tornado in order to issue warnings.
"I know some folks are upset because they were not told about the tornado warning," Hubbard County Coordinator Jack Paul said in a widely distributed e-mail.
"This office was not told either. No one heard any warning sirens within the Courthouse, no office was notified of any warning, and to my knowledge no one heard the city siren go off," Paul said of the Courthouse located in Park Rapids.
Some Courthouse workers heard of the tornado potential from family members who called them and asked Paul's office if they could seek shelter.
"We told them they could go to the basement if they felt they needed to," Paul said. "Meanwhile, we then tried to find out what was going on."
When Park Rapids received the warning, the tornado had already passed Park Rapids and was between Pickerel Lake and the Emmaville area, he said. "What info was provided was after the tornado had passed onto the north."
According to a National Weather Service report, a tornado at 9:35 a.m. produced widespread roof damage on the east side of Park Rapids, with trees down and cars in the ditch a mile north of state Highway 34 on Hubbard County Road 4 near Emmaville/Lake George.
Three minutes earlier, law enforcement confirmed a tornado touched down, with damage, 3 miles east of Park Rapids.
Paul, in his e-mail, said that whenever his office knows of an actual tornado, the alarm will be pulled. "Obviously, we need to find a way to get the info to us faster, and then out as fast as we can. But no one, to my knowledge, knew about any tornado until it had passed us," he said.
Paul notes that law enforcement dispatch had apparently received a tornado warning message, and had sounded alarms in the city of Park Rapids.
"It would be nice in the future if dispatch could also notify the Courthouse ... so we could react immediately," he said. "And, often there is no warning as tornadoes develop without notice. In the case this (Friday) morning, it's my understanding by the time anyone knew of any possibility near PR, it was already doing damage at Pickerel Lake."