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Minnesota Power crews worked Tuesday night by Coburns grocery store in downtown Park Rapids. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)
Minnesota Power crews worked Tuesday night by Coburns grocery store in downtown Park Rapids. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Day after storm brings signs of progress and what was lost in Park Rapids

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news Park Rapids, 56470

Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

As Day 2 dawned, Park Rapids residents woke up to aching backs and plenty of sunshine.

But that sun carries a heavy price of what was lost in Monday night's EF-1 tornado, which struck older sections of the city.

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"Good grief we lost a lot of beautiful trees," said Minnesota Power line crew supervisor Carl Thesing.

Whole sections of shade trees toppled in high winds west and north of the downtown area.

Linda Eischens' front yard west of the courthouse will have no shade whatsoever. She, husband John and daughter Rachel and friends spent the day, as many other residents did, cleaning up the mess.

Residents and city crews made remarkable progress Tuesday despite cold weather, rain and high winds that compounded the misery of the cleanup.

Sightseers also did.

Linda Eischens said people driving through the ravaged neighborhoods impeded city trucks that were trying to do curbside pickup of the branches and tree debris. Police were swamped, too busy to do traffic control.

North of Coborns grocery store, Richard Roberts spent the day chain sawing a tree that toppled his 8-foot fence. A 10-foot section was missing.

Around the side of the yard, the rest of the fence looked like a pile of twigs.

"This is really a mess," Roberts said. "It'll look really nice when the flowers bloom," he added, searching for the bright side.

Thesing and power crews were busy working Tuesday evening but he said he couldn't predict when all the power would be restored.

"It's a lot of work for everybody," he said.

Many lines were ripped off homes, and that "mask" is the homeowner's responsibility to replace, he said. Professional electricians will have to do the work, he said.

Businesses such as the West 40 restaurant remained closed Tuesday night due to the power outage.

Residents like Matt Steckelberg, who lives near the courthouse, were going to fire up their grills to eat because they still were without power. Steckelberg and friends were loading the back of a pickup with branches to take to the county transfer station off Henrietta Avenue, which stayed open late.

A steady stream of pick-ups overloaded with branches made the journey to the county's branch pile, which was a mountain by nightfall.

Carol Hutchinson's boss, Park Rapids Superintendent Glenn Chiodo and principal Jeff Johnson brought chainsaws to remove the fallen trees in her yard, just across the street from the Eischens home.

"I'm so grateful for all the friends and help," an exhausted Hutchinson said Tuesday night.

But the mantra repeated over and over throughout the day, throughout the town, was, "Thank God no one was injured."

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