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City Council holds special meeting Tuesday morning to respond to storm

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News Park Rapids,Minnesota 56470
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City Council holds special meeting Tuesday morning to respond to storm
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

In the wake of the storm that hit the city at 10:40 p.m. Monday, the Park Rapids Council convened an emergency meeting Tuesday morning to discuss steps in what is expected to be a "long term" clean-up.


Police and maintenance crews headed out after the "microburst" to assess damage, working through the night.

As of Tuesday morning, no storm-related injuries had been reported.

Parts of the city experienced extensive damage, city administrator Bill Smith said of the storm that made its arrival at the south end of town.

Straight River Township also experienced damage, Hubbard Country Emergency Manager Brian Halbasch told the council, but most of the damage is in the city. A state emergency management team is being sent to assess damage, he said.

At this point, there is no estimation on the cost of the damage.

The city will haul trees and brush left curbside, setting a deadline date of Friday, June 10. The council agreed to hire additional help to assist the city's maintenance crew, including wood chopper equipment.

Clean-up volunteers - other than friends and family of those impacted -and businesses are asked to register at the city office.

Civic and church groups are also asked to contact the city to be directed to those in need of assistance.

Local contractors have contacted the city office to offer assistance.

The city will request extended hours at the transfer station during the clean-up process.

Those with structural damage will have a 24-hour window to apply for a permit after work begins.

The immediate response is complete, Smith told the council Tuesday. But he estimates the clean- up could extend over months, depending on homeowners' response.

Police chief Terry Eilers reported the center of damage was an area extending from Fourth Street and Pleasant Avenue.

Park Rapids Building Supply, Main Street Meats and patio furniture at Moose Creek sustained damage, he said.

Soft ground from recent rainfalls contributed to several pines being downed, blocking streets. Crews worked through the night to remove them.

Some fires were ignited by the falling trees, but that ended when the power went off, maintenance supervisor Scott Burlingame said.

Residents are urged to call Gopher One (800-252-1166) to check for locations of utility lines before removing stumps - and use "extreme caution" when near a downed power line.

Ten sanitation system lift stations lost power, but portable generators kept them running, Burlingame reported.

Cell phones shut down during the storm, law enforcement using car-to-car radios to communicate.

Eilers said people arriving to offer assistance Monday night were deterred.

Law Enforcement Center jail doors reportedly popped open momentarily when the storm hit.

City buildings were not impacted with the exception of the liquor store, which lost some paneling.

The grandstand at the fairgrounds lost its roof.

Minnesota Power crews from Duluth and St. Cloud were headed to Park Rapids Tuesday morning to begin work on the power lines.

It's highly unlikely the city will meet the threshold for reimbursement for storm damage, which is $6.9 million, Halbasch told the council.

Mayor Nancy Carroll suggested the city contact Wadena, which was devastated by a tornado last year, to determine protocol.

The city is checking into declaring a formal state of emergency in the aftermath of the storm.

Jean Ruzicka
(218) 732-3364