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Historic barns took a beating in the July 2 storm. Many toppled. This one didn't quite. Wind damage was widespread throughout northern Hubbard County and in the new La Salle State Recreation Area. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Blowdown at Becida: Northern Hubbard County takes a pounding

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What happened last week in northern Hubbard County is called a blowdown.

It could just as well have been called a bomb.

The end result was similar.

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The Becida region and the state's newest park fell victim to 80+ mph winds.

The La Salle State Recreation Area campground has reopened, but there is a noticeable lack of shade for the camp spots. In a good news-bad news case, the lakefront campsites have a better vista.

It will be awhile before the park's cabins and beach reopen. Too many fallen trees block the entryway.

A friend of Jim Paulson's likened the landscape to Vietnam after an artillery attack.

Paulson is still waiting to have a tree removed from his home off Hubbard County Road 27.

"I know my own limits," he said, surveying the monster tree perched on the corner of his rooftop.

You could call County 27 the corridor of horrors. Miles of bent and broken trees paint a heart-wrenching picture of Mother Nature in her most vindictive mood.

Whole fields of trees are angled at 45 degrees and likely will die.

Wednesday Gov. Mark Dayton announced a special legislative session for August to address storm damage to the state that began last month.

To date, northern Hubbard County and Beltrami County, hard hit by the windstorms July 2, are not yet included in a state or federal designation of disaster areas.

State legislators have toured the damages but made no promises.

A walking tour of the Fern Township Cemetery shows widespread damage.

Jack pines top-heavy with pine cones toppled, showering the ground with millions of crunchy pieces of debris.

Work to clear the mess has been ongoing for the past 10 days. Piles of pine boughs line the cemetery fence.

The storm track runs from south of Hubbard County Road 9 to the Mississippi River in La Salle SRA.

"She really blew," said Mark Wilander, whose parents lost their historic barn on County Road 27.

Wilander points north.

"That whole 40, I lost five permanent deer stands. I can't get through to see what else might have been damaged."

Around the corner, another historic barn lies in a shambles of large-scale pick-up sticks. At the end of the road, a metal road sign was nearly torn in half by the powerful winds.

Paulson points to the massive pine on his roof.

"My son calls this his new roommate," he said.

The house is sealed up inside so the teen is protected from the elements.

Paulson said he has many loggers for neighbors and all the topped trees will keep them busy for the near future.

"Norbord and Potlatch, I don't know if they need this much wood," he said of the two lumber mills in the region.

Hubbard County Emergency Management Director Brian Halbasch said he's tallying up damage from the individual townships and was planning on sending totals to the state Homeland Security Department by late Friday.

"We'll see," he said of possible reimbursement. "This is sheerly a forecast number... Much of this is going to be private insurance. We're working on it but they're (the state) not making any promises at this point."

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Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.
(218) 732-3364
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